Great Power Clashes in the Caucasus Region
The Eastern Question played a decisive role in the development of the Great Powers’attitude. The roots of the set of problems are closely related to the expansive aspirations of Russia. Resulting from the geostrategic position of the empire, the Balkans became a constant target of Russia’s foreign political ambitions. The ethnic fragmentation of the region, the aspirations for independence of the peoples living under Ottoman domination and the decentralized character of the Constantinople administration provided excellent opportunities for St Petersburg to realize their aspirations to enforce their interests. The conflicts, related to the Eastern Question, apart from the dissolution of the Balkans’ status quo, meant the permanent and realistic threat of the possible restrain of free shipping in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. It was the increasing threat posed on the straights and the commercial roads to India that motivated the active role of Great Britain in the Eastern Question. The stabilisation of the political circumstances in the region resulted in the periodic and limited cooperation of the two powers competing to acquire influence in the area in the second half of the 1820’s. Nevertheless the relation between Great Britain and Russia altered in the first half of the 1830’s. Russia gained a considerable influence in the Near East and the strengthening of her positions gave new dynamism to the Anglo-Russian rivalry. One of the most important manifestations of the ambivalent liaison between the two states was the so-called Vixen Affair of 1836 which can be a prominent example of the above mentioned tendency.