Forging the Anglo-Russian Convention
THE Treaty of Portsmouth was signed on 5 September 1905. On 31 August 1907, the British and Russians inked the Anglo-Russian Convention. This two-year period was tumultuous. Until the late summer of 1906, Russia was convulsed with internal disorder, a fact that affected both Russia's foreign policy and Britain's policy towards the Tsarist state.1 Concerned that Russia's unstable domestic situation made negotiations with her uncertain, British diplomacy made haste slowly. Not until the end of May 1906 and Nicolson's arrival as ambassador did any significant moves towards an Anglo-Russian understanding take place, and even these were tentative. Only in September did the serious negotiations begin that led to the Convention a year later.
The Anglo-Russian Convention was the culmination of continuous British attempts to come to a diplomatic understanding with Russia.2 Why were the negotiations of 1906-7 successful, where earlier efforts were not? The reasons were Russian. The shock of defeat in the Russo-Japanese War led to a complete reassessment of Russian foreign policy, a move personified by the appointment of Izvolskii as foreign minister in May 1906. Given Russia's weaknesses--domestic, financial, and military--a policy of recueillement was necessary. Russia mended her diplomatic fences comprehensively. In addition to negotiating the Anglo-Russian Convention, Russia restored good relations with Japan and tightened her relationship with France, all the while attempting to come to an understanding with Germany over the Baltic and with Austria-Hungary in the Balkans.3____________________