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loki100
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A fatal alliance

Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:34 pm

St Petersburg, November 1856

As he felt himself moving closer to St Petersburg, Alexander relaxed. For many reasons, Moscow had such bad memories that he never felt at ease there. He was a man of the wider world – and to himself he chuckled, for none of those close to him realised how wide this concept really was – and Moscow seemed so provincial, so stuck in the past. And also so full of his own, now abandoned, past.

Surrounded by the luxury of his personal train carriage, he was a man at ease with himself. Already he was writing his future as it would be told in this world's history books. Alexander the Great. Alexander the reformer. The man who had faced down Prussian militarism and ensured peace in Europe. Alexander the train builder … no that made him sound like a child. Alexander the builder … yes that was better.

So he relaxed and looked out into the darkness.

As he did his mind shifted to his own affairs. Being Tsar was more enjoyable than he had imagined – power over a huge realm and authority in his own court. Again his mind slipped, this time to Olga
Dmitryevna – a strange woman but one he felt the need to spend time with.

And then to his own world. There he would be favoured, a man who could rescue even the most flawed of experiments, for under his guidance Russia would take the direction it had missed in 1822.

The knocking on the door to his private rooms disturbed his thoughts. Even more annoying, he heard the voice of Prince Chepyzhin. The man had been so polite to him since the Prussian crisis it was almost impossible to deal with him. Clearly his success in setting out Russia's policy had annoyed his foreign minister. Well good.

'Sire, can we have a word. The Greek ambassador, Eleutherios Venizelos [1], wishes to thank you.'

'Thank me, for what'

'Well your majesty when you so kindly visited Athens last year, you promised us the protection of the Orthodox Church and Holy Mother Russia.'

'Yes, I recall it well – it is important to bring the Orthodox churches back together'

'We are agreed. Good. At the last station, I heard from my government, we are now at war with the Ottomans. And we ask for the support you promised'.

At this, for the first time in months, Prince Dimitry Petrovich smiled.

'Sire, shall I send a telegram to order the army to prepare? … After all we must honour your promises?'

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[2]

[1] In reality Greek PM at the post-Great War peace conferences.

[2] I'd given them a promise support diplomatic decision as a means to try and get better relations. My logic was that they were isolated so this seemed to be safe. Given the horrendous prestige loss if I don't back them, had little choice but to join in their war.

The British also have a promise support agreement – so I could end up fighting alongside the British against the Ottomans?

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loki100
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The Second Ottoman War

Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:43 pm

The Second Russian-Ottoman War 1857-1858

The second war between the two powers in the 1850s was in reality a product of the same struggle for influence between Russia and Britain that dominated the middle years of the nineteenth century.

The first came about because Britain wished to use the declining Ottoman empire as a means to stop Russian expansion southwards. In effect, it was an accident, neither Britain nor Russia started by wanting a war but the Ottomans misinterpreted vague promises of Anglo-French support as sufficient to gamble on war with Russia to regain lost territory in the Caucasus.

The second came because both Britain and Russia sought influence over Greece.

To the classically educated elite in the British state, a fictional, long lost, Greece had a hold over their imaginations. Britain had supported the Greek revolt against the Ottomans in the 1830s and saw the new state as something between its child and a young adult who needed firm guidance. Such sympathy, of course, did not prevent Britain from seizing and occupying Corfu on the pretext of keeping the islands out of Ottoman control.

Russian interest was equally driven by a mix of practical goals and heady imagination. Greece was an enemy of the Ottomans with a small but well trained army. As an ally, it would always be useful if Russia had to go to war with the Ottomans. Equally, the port at Athens would give Russia unimpeded access to the Mediterranean, something she would never have as long as Istanbul was in Ottoman hands. But again, self-created myths played a role. As a fellow Orthodox country, Russia imagined that the Greek church yearned for re-unification with the Russian. Equally that they too saw Moscow as the 'Third Rome' even while sharing Russian desires to re-establish Orthodox rule over Istanbul.

The problem was that the Greeks were unwilling to commit to either suitor.

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Well aware her two wooers were at odds with each other, the Greeks proved to be adept at balancing them off and extracting more and more concessions while promising less and less. Thus by the end of 1856, both powers had promised support to Greece for little in return but the hope of better relations in the future.

Greece then used that support to commence its own war of conquest on the weakened Ottomans. Reluctantly, Russia honoured its promises and set its armies marching south. War was not unwelcome as the Tsar sought to implement his domestic agenda and sought prestige.

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Britain, already rocked by a large revolt in India, did not. So, without a shot being fired, Russia gained in terms of international prestige. It could, and did, present itself as a state that stood by its friends.

But on the battlefield, the problems of 1852-3 re-emerged. It was again at war alongside an ally very reluctant to co-operate. Still Russian armies quickly set off along well trodden routes westward across Anatolia and southwards from Odessa.

The Ottoman armies had scarcely had the chance to recover from the last war and were no match for the Russians on the battlefield. Istanbul again fell to the Russians in September 1857.

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With this, the Greeks held most of European Turkey while the Russians dominated Anatolia and northern Iraq. It was clear to all, that it was now a matter of finding suitable peace terms.

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loki100
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Death on the beach

Sat Sep 30, 2017 7:55 pm

Aden, September 1857

Where was the damn woman? For most of the recent year he had been glad when she went off on one of her secret missions, but today, to his surprise, Vladimir wanted to talk to her.

He had news … news of great importance to Vladimir. And, thus, he had decided, of great importance to Maria Bogdanova. After all, even though they disliked each other the Tsar had ensured they had to work together.

So she could savour his enjoyment of his reward for their efforts.

Her servant suggested she had only left the house that morning so she couldn't have gone far since then. A discrete check of her room suggested she had only taken the clothes she must be wearing. So she couldn't be planning a long trip in any case.

She must be going somewhere she felt safe, since she seemed to have left most of her weapons. That struck Vladimir as reckless. Far to the north, the war between the Tsar and the Sultan was one of large armies and major cities. Here it had become one of the knife in the side in a crowded market. A vicious, personal war between agents of the two states seeking influence in this region.

Vladimir guessed she might have planned to go swimming. Her taste for these warm waters surprised him but it was probably her only indulgence. If so, he knew where she might have gone.

----------

Later that morning, he tied his horse to a scrubby tree. He had guessed right. Across the small clearing was another horse patiently eating fodder. He had come to the correct place.

Even so, he moved cautiously and as he reached the edge of the scrub slowly raised his head and looked over the beach.

To his surprise, Maria was not alone. That she had lovers was of no surprise, or interest, to him. That she felt the urge to keep them secret was. But looking again, it was clear they were arguing.

Even as he watched the man went as if to strike her.

'Big mistake, svinoi' muttered Vladimir.

Sure enough, Maria hit him first. At that, the man pulled out a knife.

Vladimir sat back. If this was a lover's tryst it had gone wrong. If Maria was killed, he had no-one to tell. So he stood up and moved onto the beach.

As he did the fight was nearing his end. The man had fallen to the sand face down. Maria grabbed his neck and twisted.

'Bravo … well done … a textbook example we could use to train new agents'. As he advanced, Vladimir applauded. As he arrived, he realised he had misjudged the situation.

'So, me being threatened is an entertainment for you? While you hide in the woods spying on me?'

In all their arguments, Vladimir had never seen her so angry.

'While I deal, on my own, with the Sultan's latest killer'.

To her surprise, Vladimir suddenly jumped at her, bundling her to the ground. Even as they both fell clumsily onto the sand, she heard the pistol shot. And felt her companion regaining his feet and moving quickly towards a gap where a river ran onto the beach. Regaining her breath she followed.

A second shot, again poorly aimed and Vladimir slipped out of sight. As she turned the corner she saw he was pointing his own gun at another man.

Seeing her, he smiled – 'yours or mine?' Maria contented herself with a simple nod. Vladimir raised the pistol and shot the man.

'This beach is filling up with corpses'. Glancing at the one at his feet, Vladimir asked 'do we dispose of them in the sea or on the land'. 'Land' Maria replied, 'I have still not had my swim'.

They dragged the corpse back into the scrub and tipped it into a sun-baked fissure in the soil. Sweating, they returned to the beach and brought the first body up. Even as they dumped that too into the trench, Vladimir saw the glint of a musket.

'Oh this becomes tedious', turning to Maria, he asked 'yours or mine'? To his surprise she smiled and replied 'both'. They split apart and ran to where the third killer cowered. Though killer was perhaps not an accurate description, the man was clearly terrified. With reason. Shortly afterwards his body lay with the others.

Looking at her torn and dirty clothes, Maria said 'and now I will have that swim'. She started back to the beach and then turned to look at Vladimir suspiciously. 'Just why are you here? I assume it is not to spy on me?'

'Oh, my dear, I bring news'. We are to rule over a colony

Image

and to have more men to guard us while we do so'.

Image

To his surprise, Maria came back and then embraced him. For one so dangerous, her body felt soft and warm beneath his hands.

'Maybe I will risk one swim?'

Taillebois
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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:41 am

Where are the narwhals of yesteryear? All the AJE aar photos are ether. Will try PON if you can save them. :)

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loki100
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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:14 am

Taillebois wrote:Where are the narwhals of yesteryear? All the AJE aar photos are ether. Will try PON if you can save them. :)


The problem is photobucket. They not only ended the free hosting service they removed all the old images at the same time. Imageshack did something similar in ending free hosting but at least you can still see old uploaded images.

So unless he is prepared to actually reload all the images via a new hosting site (and its likely that he's not kept the images - i don't), then they are lost.

But its a decision by photobucket as a hosting site.

Taillebois
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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:58 pm

Thanks loki. sorry to interrupt your AAR. I just noticed the same thing on a Hearts of Iron AAR I wanted to re-visit. I guess that's the trouble with free. It doesn't last forever.

vaalen
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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:04 am

I just wanted to say that i am still faithfully reading and enjoying this AAR. it will be very interesting to see how the Russian colonization of Aden turns out.

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