The Great Game in Tibet

Espionage History Archive

From the archives of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, comes a fascinating story of the early-twentieth-century Great Game between Imperial Russia and the British Empire, as the two sides intrigue and maneuver for geopolitical advantage in the mysterious mountain kingdom of Tibet. 


His Imperial Majesty’s Minister of the Court, Baron Fredericks, was clearly irritated. Only at the last moment was he informed that the program for visits to the Tsar for January 14th, 1904, had to be changed, since the Russian Army’s General Staff requested Nicholas II to immediately receive two Don Cossacks on a secret mission to Tibet for a “confidential audience.” The Tsar agreed, and Baron Fredericks had no other option but to relay to the organizers of the Tsar’s hunt in the Ropsha pheasant preserve that His Majesty could not arrive today and would delay the hunt for several days, about which would be additionally reported.

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