Russo-Khokandian War

Russo-Khokandian War
   The inauguration of the Russian conquest of Khokand khanate. During the middle of the 1860s, Russia and the Khokand khanate competed for the same territories in Central Asia. This led to the 1864–1865 war over territories mostly in the area of present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Before Russian entry into the oases areas of Central Eurasia, Khokand’s main competitor was the emirate of Bukhara. The Khokand khanate was a vigorously productive and expanding state in the first half of the nineteenth century. Squabbles with Bukhara and internal political turmoil in the 1850s and early 1860s greatly weakened Khokand.
   Russia started making its first sustained advance into Central Asia as early as about 1730. The Russians carried out a period of gradual conquest throughout the rest of the eighteenth century and early-nineteenth century across the Kazakh steppe. By mid-century, the Russian military machine was in position to use its vast and superior resources against the Central Eurasian states and peoples. After brief interludes to focus on the Crimean War and the revolt of Shamil in the Caucasus, by the 1860s Russia was ready to make an assault on the southern part of the Kazakh steppe. Under the command of General Mikhail Cherniaev, the Russian forces took the southern Kazakh city of Aulie-ata (in less than two hours) in June 1864. Cherniaev believed that Chimkent would fall as easily, but victory there was much more difficult to achieve. After a failed initial attack, Cherniaev retreated to Turkestan for reinforcements. The second Russian attack on Chimkent, in September 1864, was an unqualified success. This was to mark, for the Russian administration, the final victory for Russia in Central Eurasia; however, Cherniaev’s decision to attack Tashkent altered that.
   Russian forces advanced on Tashkent in 1865, against the expressed opinion of the Russian government and foreign minister Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov. Gorchakov believed that if Russians advanced beyond Chimkent, the empire ran the risk of involving itself in endless wars with Central Eurasian states and peoples. Despite official government opinion, General Cherniaev led the Russian military attack on Tashkent, feeling that the Russian forces would be unstoppable. He was largely correct on this score, as the Russians captured Tashkent and Cherniaev earned the nickname “The Lion of Tashkent.” He was dismissed from his military duties in Central Eurasia, however, following this victory at Tashkent. The Russian conquest of Tashkent cleared the way for the creation of the 1865 Steppe Commission led by Minister of War Dimitry Miliutin and the formal establishment of the Turkestan colony in 1867.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
    Allworth, Edward, ed. Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Dominance, A Historical Overview. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1994;
    MacKenzie, David. The Lion of Tashkent: The Career of General M. G. Cherniaev. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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