Lord Palmerston on security for future of peace of Europe

Carlton Gardens, 26 May, 1854

It would be taking a very narrow & imperfect view of the Causes & objects of the war in which we are engaged, to think that the great & only Thing to be aimed at is to drive the Russian out of the Principalities, and that this once accomplished the Sword may be returned to the Scabbard. We are pledged by the national Interest, by European Interests, and by our Convention with France to prevent the Recurrence of the Causes which have brought the war on. and this can be accomplished only by weakening Russia for a Time at least, if we cannot do so permanently, in some material Point. To drive Russia out of the Principalities would be only like turning a Burglar out of your House, to break in again at a more fitting opportunity.

The best and most effectual security for the future Peace of Europe would be the severance from Russia of some of the frontier territories acquired by her in later Times, Georgia, Circassia. the Crimea, Bessarabia, Poland & Finland.

If these were taken from her she would still remain an enormous Power. but far less advantageously posted for aggression on her neighbours. In the mean while and looking simply to the operations of the war in the present Campaign there are Four Scenes of actual or possible warlike operations against Russia.

1. Georgia & Circassia with a view to her expulsion

2. The Crimea & Sebastopol with a view to the Capture of the Black Sea Fleet

3. The Danube. the Balkan & the Principalities with a view to driving the Russians back over the Pruth

4. The Baltic including Finland with a view to the Destruction of Sweaborg & Kronstadt and the Capture of the Baltic Fleet.

The First operation must be carried on by The Turks alone, excepting naval Cooperation in attacks on the Russian Forts on the Circassian Coast; for this Purpose Turkey must reorganize her Asiatic army; get money by a Loan, & place that asiatic army under European Commanders.

The Second operation ought to be the work to be done by the English & French Troops assisted if necessary by a Turkish Force & by the combined Fleets, but a Turkish Force might be dis[pensed] with. 50 or 60000 British & French would with Certainty take Sebastopol and the Fleet.

The ‘Third operation may perfectly well be left to the Turks, the Austrians & the Prussians. lf the Turks cannot accomplish it assisted by the menacing attitude of Austria. the Austrians will be compelled by a due Regard to their own immediate interests to throw their Sword into the Balance and thus to turn the Scale.

As to subsidizing Austria that is wholly out of the Question; if Austria wants money to carry on war for her own Interests, she must raise what she wants in the money market of Europe, and pay for the money what the money is worth, she cannot reasonably ask us to borrow money to make her a Present of it.

The Fourth operation cannot be accomplished by a naval Force alone. If it could the combined Fleets in the Baltic are strong enough for it if they had only the assistance of some Good Gun Boats. But Sweaborg & Cronstadt cannot be taken without the Cooperation of a Land Force. England cannot spare Troops for the Purpose and to send a large French army would be expensive, and France would expect us to go Halves in the Expence by providing Transports at our Cost.

If the Swedish army is as good as we have Reason to believe it to be there is a Force, numerous, effective, comparatively Cheap, and on the spot. Some moderate French Force might be sent to act with it.

If by such Means we could take Sweaborg & Kronstadt or Either the one or the other, and the whole or a large Part of the Russian Fleet we should have done much towards accomplishing the objects of the war.

Such Results of operations in the Baltic might include or not according to Circumstances the Conquest of Parts of Finland by Sweden. with regard to which or its subsequent Pretention we ought to enter into no Engagement. But the Destruction of the Russian Fleet and arsenals would of itself be a great Security for Sweden for Many years to come. All that Sweden could properly ask, or we could promise would be that we should conjointly with France give her money to put her army in the Field and maintain it there and that we should not make Peace without including her as an ally; an obligation indeed which would be imposed upon us by common Honesty, without any specific stipulations the Moment Sweden became our active ally with or without a subsidy.

The true Point of view then in which we ought to lock at the Question of Swedish Subsidy, is the Tendency of such a measure to assist us in making ourselves Masters of the Russian Fleet & arsenals in the Baltic, and its effect not only in bringing the present war to a close, but in preventing for a great Length of Time the Recurrence of similar Difficulties. It must also be borne in Mind that successful operations of this Kind in the Baltic would enable us greatly to diminish our naval Force in that Sea & thus to reduce our Expenses, or Else to detach a larger Force to the North American Station to support our negotiations with the United States Government. and to prevent a Rupture with the americans.


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