Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union by Robert Robinson

By Robert Robinson

An Autobiography Robert Robinson

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Extra resources for Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union

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Alexander remained concerned about the situation in Poland but could do nothing about it. Sweden, by contrast, was a country on which both leaders could agree a policy. France was hostile towards Sweden because its king, Gustav IV, refused to join the Continental System. Russia was hostile because it hoped to take Finland from Sweden and thereby make its own Baltic coastline safer from attack. Russia had few difficulties in the war that followed, only encountering serious resistance at the fortress of Sveaborg which guarded the sea route to Finland’s capital, Helsinki.

In 1807, it was made up of land taken only from Prussia but in 1809 it was enlarged by western Galicia being added. Alexander tried to compensate for this by taking land for Russia in the Polish hinterlands but neither Bialystok in 1807 nor eastern Galicia (Tarnopol) in 1809 amounted to much. Furthermore, the Poles were keen on what Napoleon had done for them since he had granted a constitution, allowed the formation of a Polish army and ended serfdom. This all gave rise to a renewal of Polish nationalism which Alexander did not want to encourage; Napoleon himself commented that ‘It is difficult to convey a proper idea of the national movement in this country … Priests, nobles, peasants – they are all of one mind’.

Talleyrand, the French delegate, endorsed this view and in January 1815 these three states allied against Russia (and against Prussia which was holding out for its own annexation of Saxony). The result was a tense few days in January 1815 during which there seemed to be the chance of a war between the four victorious great powers. Details of the alliance were leaked to Russia and Prussia and as a result a compromise was reached in which Russia took the bulk of Poland – ‘Congress Poland’ as it was called – and Prussia got approximately half of Saxony.

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