south/south dialogues

Unfortunate Colonialists: Tsarist Russia in the Horn of Africa

by Oleksandr Polianichev

This essay is part of our south/south dialoguesBeyond the colonial vortex of the ‘West’: Subverting non-western imperialisms before and after 24 February 2022.

Nikolai Leontʹev and his associates in Ethiopia. Source: N. Léontieff, Provinces equatoriales d’Abyssinie (Paris: Imp. Chambrelent, 1900), 69.

The essay focuses on Tsarist Russia’s ambitious and far-reaching – yet nowadays almost forgotten – attempt at expanding its imperial reach into the African continent in the final decades of the 19th century. What began as an ill-fated effort to establish a colony in Djibouti in 1889, continued in the 1890s as more cautious and tacit long-term tactics of advancing Russian imperial interests in Ethiopia with an aim to secure a foothold in the Horn of Africa and on the Red Sea coast. It challenges the long-standing narrative about Imperial Russia’s disinterest in the overseas colonial endeavour in the age of high imperialism.


Ever since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, discussions about Russia’s imperial past and its continuities in the present, which had previously been limited mostly to academic circles, resumed with renewed vigour on a much broader scale. While many in the West were quick to recognise the Russian invasion of Ukraine as imperialism writ large, the Kremlin’s ideologists put forward their own narrative of war, in which Russia appeared as a mere victim of the West’s ‘imperialist’ encroachment on the ‘Russian historical territories’.

As the war dragged on, Russia doubled down on securing support for its war effort in the Global South. The Kremlin resuscitated the Cold War-era Soviet rhetoric that portrayed the USSR – now reduced to Russia only – as the champion of oppressed nations in their struggle against US imperialism. According to the Kremlin’s propaganda playbook, Russia has re-emerged as a global anti-imperial superpower, while its war on Ukraine has spelled the end of the Western political, military, and economic hegemony.

Part and parcel of this ideological offensive is Russia’s denial of its own record of imperialism and colonial expansion. In the run-up to his five-day tour to Africa in July 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov authored an op-ed for four African newspapers, in which he claimed that Russia has ‘not stained itself with the bloody crimes of colonialism’ (Lavrov, 2022). This claim was broadly echoed and expanded upon in the following months by his subordinates. In September, Russian Ambassador in Kenya Dmitry Maksimichev wrote another op-ed for a local newspaper, titled ‘Don’t be Fooled by Lies on “Russia colonialism”’. In it, he asserted that ‘Neither the Tsarist Russia, nor the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation have ever been colonialist’ (Maksimichev, 2022).

This does not come as a surprise. Over decades, the tsarist colonial endeavour has remained a blind spot in Russian historiography – a result of a strategy of deliberate silencing and neglect that Alexander Morrison called ‘Russia’s colonial allergy’ (Morrison, 2016). What is more remarkable is that Western historiography of the Russian Empire has also been reluctant to comprehensively address the question of Russian colonialism. Today, scholars generally agree that the tsarist expansion in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia, or North America was essentially colonial (Bassin, 1999; Jersild, 2002; Morrison, 2020; Vinkovetsky, 2011), while some elements of colonial practices and discourses could also be found in the Russian Empire’s European periphery (Rolf, 2021; Staliūnas and Aoshima, 2021). With all that, much less attention has been paid to the global dimension of Russian colonial pursuits driven by commercial interests in the late 19th–early 20th century, such as a rather successful expansion of Russia’s informal empire in Iran and East Asia (Andreeva, 2007; Deutschmann, 2016; Jager, 2023). Finally, aside from a few exemptions, virtually no research has been published in recent decades in English on the phenomenon that stirred the tsarist imagination in the age of high imperialism – the Russian Empire’s bid to join the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’. Russia did not have formal colonies on the continent, but, as this essay shows, it made every effort to have some.

Moscow in Djibouti: Russia’s Covert Colonialism

In January 1889, the abandoned Ottoman fort of Sagallo in what is now Djibouti witnessed a pretty unusual flag-raising ceremony: a banner of three horizontal bands – red, blue, and white – was raised over the fort’s walls in a gesture that was meant to symbolise that from that moment on this African territory would ‘for eternity’ belong to a new colonial overlord: the Russian Empire.

What made a Russian flag flying above an African coastal fortification possible? To an extent, it was an extraordinary occurrence. When in 1884 representatives of major European powers convened in Berlin for a conference that divided Africa into spheres of colonial influence, Russia did not negotiate any colony for itself. However, even before the conference closed its doors, its organiser, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, invited the Russian Empire to join in the ‘scramble’.

As the Russian charge d’affaires in Berlin, Count Mikhail Muravʹev hastened to telegraph the Foreign Ministry on 26 January 1885, Bismarck ‘in great secrecy’ pledged support to Russia if it attempted to set a foothold somewhere on the Red Sea coast near Ethiopia following Italy’s colonial takeover of Massawa in Eritrea (Lamzdorf, 1926: 131). By making this suggestion, Bismarck sought to reconfigure political alliances in Europe and alienate the Russian Empire from France. Given the nascent Franco-Russian rapprochement, discord with a potential new ally was not on the agenda of tsarist foreign politics. Yet, in just a few years, Russia’s ever strengthening relationships with France were put on the brink of catastrophe for this precise reason – the Tsarist Empire’s colonial adventure in the Horn of Africa.

In the late 1880s, the Russian government experienced a profound shake-up that nearly led to an emergence of a new kind of imperial identity: more engaged and assertive globally, more in tune with the spirit of time, more colonialist – in essence, more European. The name of this ‘shake-up’ was Nikolai Ashinov. A man of adventurous spirit and great ambitions, Ashinov, who styled himself as a Cossack ataman (whom he never was), by the end of the decade, had already been enjoying scandalous fame for his resounding but unfulfilled project of colonisation of the Black Sea Caucasus coast with dozens of thousands of Cossacks allegedly living in the Ottoman Empire (Lunochkin, 1999).

After the failure in the Caucasus, Ashinov came up with a new, much more daring idea. The plan envisaged nothing short of a colonial takeover of a far more distant territory – this time, in the Horn of Africa. In 1885, he caused a sensation in the press by making a trip to Ethiopia and bringing back ‘proofs’ of his travel, which, he assured, were gifted to him by the Emperor of Ethiopia, Yohannes IV: two black children and an ostrich (Panaev, 1906: 429).

Upon his return, Ashinov began agitating for colonial intervention in Ethiopia. In one of his letters, widely circulated in other newspapers, he wrote: ‘If [the government] equips us to this country, this entire country, and particularly Sudan, would be Russian’. There were geopolitical interests at stake, most notably Russia’s rivalry with Britain: ‘We could take this country’, he went on, ‘just to spite the English’ (Kavkaz, 1886). Ashinov’s ideas, unorthodox as they were, resonated across the empire. Key public figures, top-ranking officials, and society at large were thrilled at the prospect of having an African colony. Some simply saw it as a patriotic cause, some understood the importance for Russia to have a port on the trade route from Europe to India. Finally, there were those who dreamt of Russia’s own plantations of tropical plants, such as coffee (Kavkaz, 1888).

Ashinov’s cause won him sympathies among some of the most influential people of the Russian Empire: Mikhail Katkov and Aleksei Suvorin, the publishers of two highly influential newspapers of Tsarist Russia, Moskovskie vedomosti and Novoe vremia, former Foreign Minister Nikolai Ignatʹev, Commander of the Imperial Main Headquarters Otton Rikhter, and many others. His most important benefactor was Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod Konstantin Pobedonostsev, who was the Russian Empire’s second most influential figure after the emperor himself and who hailed Ashinov as Russia’s Columbus (Lamzdorf, 1926: 146). What united all Ashinov’s patrons was their propensity for informal methods of policy making – bold, out-of-the-ordinary actions that ran counter to traditional and cumbersome bureaucratic approaches (Polunov, 2019).

While different actors for different purposes seized upon Ashinov’s idea, the person who gave it decisive push was Nikolai Baranov, the governor of Nizhny Novgorod – a city on the Volga River, a major tsarist trade route to the Caspian Sea, which, with its prominent fair, functioned as a commercial hub for Russia’s trade with the South Caucasus, Iran, and Central Asia. Baranov had a clear vision of Russia’s engagement in global trade.

In his letter to Emperor Alexander III on September 20, 1888, Baranov put forward the idea of governing a Russian colony on Africa’s Red Sea coast, exploited for its resources. Baranov proposed to establish what he called Russian-African company, which would have its own garrison and fleet. After a while, when the political situation would allow, all military and naval affairs as well as the administration of the colony would be taken over by the Russian government, leaving the company in charge of commerce and industry (Lamzdorf, 1926: 133).

Baranov saw himself as a spokesman for the interests of Russian traders and merchants, whose trust he claimed he won by his year-long management of the Nizhny Novgorod fair. As he wrote to Pobedonostsev, Russia’s colony on the Red Sea would have ‘a colossal significance for the state in political, commercial, and religious respects’. As a board member of the colony, Baranov expected to receive half of the profit from the trade turnover and resource exploitation. His real ambitions went even further. He confided to Pobedonostsev: ‘I, against my will, plan to take control of the Gulf of Tadjoura under the guise of a private company’. However, he went on, ‘I would much prefer the role of a commander-governor sent by the tsar to the role of a manager of a private company sent by merchants’. In any case, Baranov was evidently confident in his ability to be a colonial ruler of Russian Africa, just like his namesake, Aleksandr Baranov, ruled Russian America some 70 years before him. ‘I think I will find enough strength, energy, and knowledge to establish the colony’, Baranov wrote (Pobedonostsev, 1923: 829–830).

Ashinov himself understood the commercial significance of the colony. In a letter to the tsar, he stressed that if all Europeans tried to occupy a place for themselves for this global trade route, Russia should not stay aside. ‘We need it even more if we develop our trade with the East just as we do with Vladivostok. Abyssinia is the key to Egypt and Africa, and whoever controls Abyssinia will also control the global route’ (Chevychelov, 1936: 109).

Another senior statesman who seized on Ashinov’s idea was Navy Minister Ivan Shestakov. Like Baranov, he considered Ashinov’s obsession with the colonisation of Africa a chance that Russia should not miss. Unlike Baranov, however, he was mainly concerned with purely military considerations. Shestakov was an enthusiast of Russia’s overseas engagement. During his office as a minister, the Russian Empire actively sought to expand its maritime presence globally. At various times, Shestakov and his subordinates considered various places across the word as potential bases and coaling stations for the Russian navy: from Haiti, the Lesser Antilles, and Yemen to Argentina, New Guinea, and Micronesia (Kondratenko, 2006: 166–168, 307–310). Ashinov provided him with the opportunity to have a base and a coaling station on a much more advantageous commercial route. The quest for coaling stations was one of the main pretexts for the global colonial expansion in the late 19th century, and Russia was about to join it.

Just like Ashinov’s patrons, Alexander III fully recognised that Ashinov was the last person to be trusted, yet was willing to use him as a tool for achieving a well worth risking goal. The emperor succumbed. In early 1888, a Russian steamship put Ashinov and a group of his associates ashore off the coast of Tajoura. The Navy representative, Lieutenant Ivanovskii, made sure that the chosen piece of the coast did not belong to any European power and broke a deal with a local sultan, negotiating a protectorate status for the territory (Chevychelov, 1936: 107; Morozov, 2013: 44). Shortly afterwards, Ashinov triumphantly reported about the establishment of Novaia Moskva (New Moscow), a Russian coastline settlement. He even published an Abyssinian-Russian dictionary – a typical colonial move in which making a territory intelligible preceded political penetration (Ashinov, 1888).

In October 1888, Shestakov dispatched a steamship to Tajoura to find the most convenient place for the establishment of the coaling station, fortifications, and mine barriers (Kondratenko, 2006: 312). In late 1888, a second Russian steamship with nearly a hundred and a half future settlers from different corners of the Russian Empire, armed by the War and Navy Ministries, was supposed to depart for New Moscow. These were people from different walks of life: fishers, tailors, carpenters, bakers, masons, sailors, doctors, and others. Some brought families; eleven women and seven children were among their ranks (Gusarova, 2019: 86).

Among them, there were also several dozen representatives of the church, led by Archimandrite Paisii. A former manager of the Athos hostel in Constantinople, which serviced Russian pilgrims going to the Holy Land, Paisii was hastily elevated to archimandrite by order of Pobedonostsev to serve as the official head of the Russian Orthodox Mission to Abyssinia. He was tasked with the construction of a Russian Orthodox temple in the colony and was supposed to carry out missionary activities – in his words, to bring Ethiopians back to ‘genuine Orthodoxy’ after ‘many centuries of separation’ (Rollins, 1968: 437; Tikhon 2011: 26–28).

As the settlers were ready to depart, the Foreign Ministry learned that Ashinov tricked the government. New Moscow did not exist. His men left Tadjoura soon after their arrival and the whole colony was nothing but a hoax. The officialdom was annoyed. The mission continued, but this time without official state support.

In late 1888, thousands of people in Odessa cheered the departure of a steamship with colonists led by Ashinov. The colonists landed in the Gulf of Tadjoura at the beginning of 1889 and, eventually, bought a territory in possession of a local tribal leader with the centre in fort Sagallo. Settlers engaged in hunting and agriculture. They brought plants; orange, lemon trees, and grapes were planted there together with cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage (Lunochkin, 1999: 92). New Moscow seemed to have come into being.

Soon, all hopes crashed. France had no intention to have Sagallo, which it considered its own possession, as a springboard for tsarist colonialism. In February, three French gunboats began shelling the fort, turning the Russian colony into a bloodbath. Dozens of settlers were wounded, several women and children were killed. The scandal was enormous. Tsarist officials denied their involvement whatsoever, assuring that they did not know about Ashinov’s venture and claiming that he acted on his own.

The Russian flag above Sagallo was removed. Russia’s powerful ally shattered its hopes for a quick acquisition of a piece of the coast. Yet the fall of Sagallo heralded the beginning of a new era of Russian colonial aspirations – with no sudden moves, marked by wait-and-see approaches and the increased reliance on diplomacy.

Dreams of a Russian Ethiopia

The 1890s marked a veritable surge of interest in Ethiopia as the most likely place for Russia to expand its informal empire in Africa. With or without support from the government, dozens of Russian subjects went there to probe the possibility of bringing it into the orbit of the Tsarist Empire. The first person to ever establish contact with Menelik II, Lieutenant Viktor Mashkov, was guided by a vision of Russia’s political, military, and economic penetration into Ethiopia. He saw the country as a lucrative arena for Russian commercial and industrial influence and, in a letter to War Minister Petr Vannovskii, he argued that the inflow of Russian products to Ethiopia would strengthen the Russian factory production and would give it a bridgehead on the Red Sea. ‘If the right moment is missed now’, he warned, ‘Abyssinia, with all its benefits, will be forever lost to Russia’ (Agureev, 2011: 61; Khrenkov, 1999).

Many members of the tsarist society saw in Ethiopia a promise of resource extraction. The adventurer and landowner Nikolai Leontʹev managed to earn the trust of Emperor Menelik II and convinced him to send an official delegation to St. Petersburg, which marked the beginning of diplomatic relations. Leontʹev promised Menelik supplies of arms and ammunition and, in exchange for them, asked to turn a part of the Ethiopian territory on the caravan route to the sea into Russian possession (Jonas, 2015: 44).

Leontʹev compared himself to European colonial figures that administered Sudan in the service of Egypt, such as Samuel Baker (Baker Pasha), who served as the governor-general of a territory in South Sudan that he himself established as the Province of Equatoria (Léontieff, 1900: 12). He became the head of a newly annexed territory in Ethiopia’s south, which he named the Equatorial Provinces, conferring upon himself the title of governor-general (Elets, 1898: ii). Leontʹev asserted that Menelik’s authority there was nominal rather than real, that the provinces were not part of Ethiopia proper (Léontieff, 1900: 19). He did it for a reason: he saw himself as the real steward of this ‘pristine’ land ripe for exploitation by Europe, represented by Russia. He set out to establish a Russian joint-stock company for the exploitation of resources, assuring that this part of tropical Ethiopia would later become a Russian protectorate (Polunov, 2021: 124). He asked the government for money to hire officials to administer the provinces and armed forces for their occupation (Morozov, 2011: 61).

Busy with other projects in East Asia, the tsarist government showed little interest, and Leontʹev founded the transnational Society for the Exploitation of the Equatorial Provinces of Ethiopia with British, French, and Belgian capital involved. Similarly to many other colonial figures, he gained notoriety for the ruthless exploitation of the territory. He and his companions plundered the land, exploited slave labour, and brutally treated the local population. According to a report by a tsarist extraordinary envoy, Leontʹev ‘robbed and beat mercilessly all the population that fell into his hands (…) bracelets, rings, amulets, earrings were torn from women and children with their ears, to waste no time, and fingers were broken; men were subjected to cruel punishments in order to force them to point out the places where elephant tusks were buried’ (Khrenkov, 2001: 42).

Leontʹev had Russian associates. One of them was Ivan Babichev, who pursued a colonial career of his own. As a secret correspondence between the foreign and war ministers reveals, in 1896 Babichev began negotiations with the sultan of Raheita to turn this territory into a Russian protectorate (Nygusie Kassae, Ponomarenko, 2016: 92).

As for the Equatorial Provinces, tsarist agents well understood their significance for Russia as a prospective colony of exploitation. Another associate of Leontʹev, Konstantin Arnolʹdi, dispatched to Ethiopia by the war ministry as a member of the Russian imperial mission, recommended that the government should wait for the right moment to reclaim them. In his 1899 report, he contemplated a possible conquest of Ethiopia by Britain. ‘We will not lose anything’, he wrote, but suggested that the Russian Empire should protest vigorously against British attempts to take over the Equatorial Provinces. Thus, ‘after the death of Abyssinia, we will have a beautiful colony’ (Khrenkov, 2001: 43).

In the end, Leontʹev’s undertaking failed. He was spending the company’s money with no benefit. In 1902, he proposed to transfer the provinces to the Russian crown. The tsar was intrigued, and the issue was discussed in the government (Davidson, Viatkina, Tsypkin, 1999: 226–227). The situation was resolved by Menelik, who, angry at Leontʹev, expelled him from the country.

Curiously, Leontʹev’s activities served as a blueprint for Russia’s more successful engagement with East Asia. Promoters of Russian colonialism in China, Mongolia, and Korea referred to the example of Leontʹev, who managed to become the ruler of ‘the vast Abyssinian territory’ (Polunov, 2021: 125). Leontʹev may have failed in Africa, but his colonial legacy was trans-continental.


In 1897, Russia’s Foreign Ministry sent its first diplomatic mission to Ethiopia, which had recently emerged victorious from the war against its self-professed colonial suzerain, Italy. The Foreign Ministry’s choice of the person for the office of extraordinary envoy was not accidental. It was Petr Vlasov, who in the 1880s held important consular posts in Rasht and Mashhad, major commercial hubs of the country that during his stay became the most important informal tsarist colony – Persia. In Ethiopia, he was tasked with pursuing the same policies that Russia adhered to in Iran – to bring it under Russia’s prevailing influence ‘without violating the outward appearance of its independence or its domestic order’ (Deutschmann, 2016: 3). Here, however, Vlasov was puzzled: his empire was too distant and had too few resources to advance its own commercial interests in Ethiopia. The only way to do so was for the Russian fleet to have direct access to the country through the establishment of a military base or a ‘colony in the broad sense of the word’ on the Red Sea coast, but it was far beyond Russia’s capabilities. The only thing Russia could do, as he wrote to the foreign minister, was to make Ethiopia ‘an obedient weapon in our hands’ to use it as a lever of pressure on Britain (Tsypkin, 1996: 22). This never materialised. Menelik II skillfully played the Russians off against the other imperial powers. Vlasov’s successors grew increasingly more dissatisfied with Menelik and his game, calling him ‘greedy’, ‘avaricious’, and ‘always in need of money’ (Tsypkin, 1996: 26). The problem was that the Russian Empire lacked the money to offer. What it did not lack was a grand ambition to catch up with other European empires in their competition for markets and resources across the globe.

This ambition was halted after Russia’s humiliating defeat in the war with Japan. During the revolution that ensued, the overall feeling that the Tsarist Empire was not up to colonial accomplishments was shared throughout the imperial space. As Kavkaz, the semi-official newspaper of the South Caucasus put it, ‘It turned out that Russia is being corroded by inner diseases. Under such conditions, intensive colonial politics is, of course, wrong’ (Kavkaz, 1905: 2).

In the 1920s and 1930s, Soviet historians exerted a lot of effort to make tsarist plans for the Horn of Africa public. Since the 1990s, profound archival research has been done by Russian scholars on the imperial motives and endeavours that brought tsarist subjects and public servants to faraway tropical realms. They had reasons aplenty for going to the places none of them enjoyed, but colonialism – as a lust for markets, commodities, resources, strategic footholds, proselytism, and spheres of influence – loomed large. Naturally, Russia’s attempts to extend its sway in Africa were just a small chapter in the otherwise long and violent history of the tsarist imperial enterprise, which relied on the colonial toolkit of subjugation and rule within its formal empire and projected its power far beyond it, on the global level. All this is integral to Russia’s imperial past for which Russia not only has failed to apologise, but has never actually acknowledged, and which Russian society is yet to confront. ∎


Agureev S (2011) Efiopiia v otrazhenii rossiiskogo obshchestvennogo mneniia v kontse XIX – nachale XX v. Moscow: RUDN.

Andreeva E (2007) Russia and Iran in the Great Game. London and New York: Routledge.

Ashinov N (1888) Abissinskaia azbuka i nachalʹnyi Abissino-Russkii slovarʹ. St. Petersburg: Tipolitografiia V. V. Komarova.

Bassin M (1999) Imperial Visions: Nationalist Imagination and Geographical Expansion in the Russian Far East, 1840–1865. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chevychelov D (1936) Afrikanskaia avantiura tsarizma (1888–1889). Borʹba klassov 3: 105–115.

Davidson A, Viatkina R, Tsypkin G (eds) (1999) Rossiia i Afrika. Dokumenty i materialy. Vol. 1. Moscow: Institut vseobshchei istorii RAN.

Deutschmann M (2016) Iran and Russian Imperialism: The Ideal Anarchists, 1800–1914. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

Elets Y (1898) Imperator Menelik i ego voina s Italiei. St. Petersburg: Tipografiia E. Evdokimova.

Gusarova E (2019) Vospominaniia kapitana Nesterova ob ekspeditsii N. I. Ashinova v Abissiniiu. Kunstkamera 6(4): 81–88.

Jager SM (2023) The Other Great Game: The Opening of Korea and the Birth of Modern East Asia. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Jersild A (2002) Orientalism and Empire: North Caucasus Mountain Peoples and the Georgian Frontier, 1845–1917. Montreal and Kingston: McGill‐Queen’s University Press.

Jonas R (2011) The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in The Age of Empire. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Kavkaz (1886) Obzor russkoi pechati. Kavkaz. April 27: 3.

Kavkaz (1888) Kavkazskaia zhiznʹ. Kavkaz. November 10: 3.

Kavkaz (1905) Manifest o mire. Kavkaz. October 9: 2.

Khrenkov A (1996) Russkie v Afrike: Ashinovskaia avantiura. Vestnik Rossiiskogo gumanitarnogo nauchnogo fonda 4: 37–50.

Khrenkov A (1999) Mashkov v Efiopii (mezhdu podvigom i avantiuroi). Voprosy istorii 2: 123–137.

Khrenkov A (2001) Afrikanskoe general-gubernatorstvo poruchika N. S. Leontʹeva. Aziia i Afrika segodnia 4: 35–44.

Kondratenko R (2006) Morskaia politika Rossii 80-kh godov XIX veka. St. Petersburg: Izdatelʹsko-torgovyi dom ‘Le Ko’.

Lamzdorf V (1926) Dnevnik. 1886–1890. Moscow–Leningrad: Academia.

Lavrov S (2022) Russia and Africa: A Future-Bound Partnership. The Pan Africanist. Available here (accessed 30 January 2023).

Léontieff N (1900) Provinces equatoriales d’Abyssinie. Paris: Imp. Chambrelent.

Lunochkin A (1999) ‘Ataman volʹnykh kazakov’ Nikolai Ashinov i ego deiatelʹnostʹ. Volgograd: Izdatelʹstvo Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta.

Maksimichev D (2022) Don’t be Fooled by Lies on ‘Russia colonialism’. The Star. Available here (accessed 30 January 2023).

Morozov E (2011) Deiatelʹnostʹ N. S. Leontʹeva na postu general-gubernatora Ekvatorialʹnykh provintsii Efiopii v 1897–1902 gg. Vestnik Orlovskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriia: Novye gumanitarnye issledovaniia 20 (6): 61–63.

Morozov E (2013) Popytki kolonizatsii Rossiei afrikanskikh territorii v kontse XIX veka. In: Fundamentalʹnye i prikladnye issledovaniia v sovremennom mire. Materialy IV Mezhdunarodno-prakticheskoi konferentsii (24–25 dekabria 2013). T. 3. St. Petersburg, pp. 43–47.

Morrison A (2016) Russia’s Colonial Allergy. Eurasianet. Available here (accessed 30 January 2023).

Morrison A (2020) The Russian Conquest of Central Asia. A Study in Imperial Expansion, 1814–1914. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Nygusie Kassae V, Ponomarenko L (2016) Ivan Filaretovich Babichev. Voprosy istorii 5: 90–102.

Panaev V (1906) Iz vospominanii V. A. Panaeva. Russkaia starina 128(11): 397–442.

Pobedonostsev K (1923) Pisʹma i zapiski. Vol. 1. Moscow–Petrograd: Gosudarstvennoe izdatelʹstvo.

Polunov A (2019) Ekspeditsiia N. I. Ashinova, spory o samoderzhavii i borʹba gruppirovok v pravitelʹstve Aleksandra III. Rossiiskaia istoriia 6: 47–60.

Polunov A (2021) ‘Vse eto tak neobyknovenno i fantastichno’: ideinye i organizatsionnye predposylki povorota vneshnei politiki Rossii na Dalʹnii Vostok v kontse XIX v. Rossiiskaia istoriia 4: 116–125.

Rolf M (2021) Imperial Russian rule in the Kingdom of Poland, 1864–1915. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Rollins P (1968) Imperial Russia’s African Colony. The Russian Review 27(4): 432–451.

Staliūnas D, Aoshima Y (eds) (2021) The Tsar, the Empire, and the Nation: Dilemmas of Nationalization in Russia’s Western Borderlands, 1905–1915. Budapest: Central European University Press.

Tikhon (2011) Otets Paisii i russkaia dukhovnaia missiia v Abissinii v XIX stoletii. Nizhegorodskaia starina 27–28: 23–39.

Tsypkin G (1996) Rossiia i Efiopiia: K stoletiiu ustanovleniia diplomaticheskikh otnoshenii. Vestnik Moskovskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriia 13. Vostokovedenie 3: 12–31.

Vinkovetsky I (2011) Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804–1867. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

About the author

Oleksandr Polianichev is a historian of the Russian Empire in the Caucasus and the wider world in the long 19th century. He has his Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence (2017). Since 2019, he has worked at Södertörn University in Stockholm.

Twitter: @OPolianichev