The Imperial Russian General Staff and China in the Far East 1880-1888: a Study of the Operations of the General Staff

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dmitry Milyutin, millitary intelligence, Russian Far East, 19th century, millitary geography

Subject Categories

History | Military History


The purpose of this study is to reveal the military intelligence (including evaluations, conclusions, recommendations) the Imperial Russian General Staff had available between 1880 and 1888 regarding an appraisal of the military quality of the Chinese army and contingency war plans recommended by General Staff officers for the Far East in case of war with China.

It is primarily descriptive and drawn from materials military and one-sided in nature, concerning two facets of Russian intelligence activities on China and not the reverse.

The following pages will relate these activities of General Staff officers in terms of the information gathered on the Chinese army and various contingency plans for the Far East from the Ili crisis to the emergence of the Korean issue, information printed, for the most part, in the “Sbornik Geograficheskikh, Topograficheskikh, I Statischeskikh Materialov po Azii”. The sources are limited, but they were so when these events occurred. In a broader sense, this study provides ample illustration of the increased technical and intellectual competence of the Imperial Russian General Staff, so vital, yet virtually unnoticed, a part of the (Dmitri) Miliutin reform era. It should be repeated that this work is basically descriptive, but certain conclusions will be drawn in the final chapter.


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