Russo-Siamese Relations Fin de Siècle

Relations between Thailand and Russia go way back, to the time when one was the Kingdom of Siam, and the other, the Russian Empire.  Most were chronicled in the primary records from the Thailand National Archives, serving as testament of the cordial and solid relationships between the two nations up to this date.

Officially established in 1897 when King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), paid his first envoy visit to St. Petersburg, in hopes of securing European allies against increasing pressure by France from the East (Indochina) and Britain from the West (Burma and Malaya).  The Siamese court hope to enlist the support of major European powers  at the time, such as Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888-1918), to strengthen its bargaining power with neighbouring colonial governments.  With the Romanovs, the King found exceptional hospitality from the court of Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917), who appraised his Siamese counterpart as ‘civilised cousin of European royalty.’

The result was the firm establishment of Russo-Siamese relations.  Upon return from his European tour, Chulalongkorn himself decided to send his crown prince, Chakrabongse Bhuvanath for miliatary training on Russian soil.  Russia reciprocated by appointing Alexander Olarovsky, First Charge d’Affaires to Siam.  Phraya Mahibal Borrirak was sent to St. Petersburg as first Siamese Ambassador to the Russian Empire in 1899.   Nicholas II, then Tsarevich, was also invited to Bangkok by the Chakri court, which he  responded almost willingly,  bearing witness to the Kingdom’s splendours and hospitality throughout his five day visit.

Russia would since play an important role in mediating Franco-Siamese relations along the Mekong, given Russia and France’s amicability towards one another.  Russia’s presence in Bangkok would also serve to remind Britain to honour Siam’s position as buffer state, given it’s natural weariness towards Russia.

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About Kianglek Tan

Kianglek is a serial entrepreneur firmly committed to the free flow of quality content and service. He frequently writes about culture, technology and entrepreneurship, fields of his passion. He holds a bachelor's degree in Food Technology and Bioprocessing. He currently resides in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Reach out to him at kianglektan@gmail.com.
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