Who would be harder for Britain to contain? A victorious Russian Empire or German Empire?

Who would be harder for Britain to contain? A victorious Russian Empire or German Empire?

  • A Germany that wins WWI would be harder to contain

    Votes: 76 49.0%
  • A Russia that wins WWI would be harder to contain

    Votes: 79 51.0%

  • Total voters
    155
This was a big decision for Britain: Is Russia or Germany a greater threat?

They originally decided that Germany was more dangerous. Was it a good call, at least in comparison to backing Germany against Russia?
 
An extremely powerful Russia is much more difficult to contain than Germany, thanks to the fact they can project power through a good part of entire Eurasia. Germany is mostly contained to Europe.

I'm not sure the british actually considered Germany a "great threat". It seems more like a convenient hindsight for events that ran their course.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
An extremely powerful Russia is much more difficult to contain than Germany, thanks to the fact they can project power through a good part of entire Eurasia.
Britain seemed to manage just fine when Russia could coordinate their own internal politics, a surviving Tsarist Empire isn’t going to be domestically stable.
Germany is mostly contained to Europe.
The German Empire had colonies all over the world and was clearly planning on increasing their naval power.
I'm not sure the british actually considered Germany a "great threat". It seems more like a convenient hindsight for events that ran their course.
An... interesting reading of history.
 
The British actually decided that Russia was more dangerous even before WWI. Their siding with Russia against Germany was partially the result of the general staff deciding that they could not protect India from the Russian army. Siding against Germany wasn't deciding it was the greater threat, it was an act of appeasement towards Russia.

Regardless, a Tsarist Russia that reached its full potential would have been more of a threat to the British Empire than Germany ever could have been. It would have been in an ideal position to strike India and the Middle East, and with Ukraine Britain could not have simply starved it out.
 
Germany was an existential threat in a way that Russia could never be until jets and nukes in the 50s. Russia's reach is only on it's land borders, Central and SW Asia mainly, they aren't going to blockade Britain with submarines.
 
Britain couldn't "contain" the Russia and Germany that lost WW1 OTL for more than a couple of decades anyways, so in the long run it's something of a wash. But in terms of threat at the time, Germany had far more potential to threaten the UK in WW1 then Russia would have.
 

NoMommsen

Donor
Germany was an existential threat in a way that Russia could never be until jets and nukes in the 50s.
... and what was that way ?
Russia's reach is only on it's land borders, Central and SW Asia mainly, they aren't going to blockade Britain with submarines.
IMHO hindsight.
At the beginnen if WW 1 this was futures music. The subs were far from being the threat they actually became. Actually the germans thought just prior to WW 1 to reduce almost scrap their sub- force until "sonething better" might show up.
 
If there is no ww1 then Russia would be the powerhouse of europe at 1950s, as some people thinks in the 1900s. so in the short run, German empire, in the long run Russia
 
Britain seemed to manage just fine when Russia could coordinate their own internal politics, a surviving Tsarist Empire isn’t going to be domestically stable.

The German Empire had colonies all over the world and was clearly planning on increasing their naval power.

An... interesting reading of history.
Domestic stability is relative. They just need to be stable enough to pursue a coherent foreign policy. The fact is, a sufficiently strong Russia would eventually be capable to lock an entire hemisphere away from the british, something the germans could never dream to do.

German power projection to their colonies was never an actual military problem to Britain and so wasn't german capacity to expand their own navy, which fell short.

I'd argue Germany was the greater nuisance for Britain but not the greater threat.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Domestic stability is relative. They just need to be stable enough to pursue a coherent foreign policy. The fact is, a sufficiently strong Russia would eventually be capable to lock an entire hemisphere away from the British, something the Germans could never dream to do.
That's dependent on everything going well for them, or its a case of more concentrating on locking down continual Communist insurgencies and assassinations of Ministers and Royals.

German power projection to their colonies was never an actual military problem to Britain and so wasn't German capacity to expand their own navy, which fell short.
But this is meant to be an ATL victorious German Empire, not the geographically constrained OTL Empire.
I'd argue Germany was the greater nuisance for Britain but not the greater threat.
You may well argue that. But Britain's politicians of the age didn't see it that way.
 
... and what was that way ?

IMHO hindsight.
At the beginnen if WW 1 this was futures music. The subs were far from being the threat they actually became. Actually the germans thought just prior to WW 1 to reduce almost scrap their sub- force until "sonething better" might show up.

Simple geography, Germany was much closer and therefore a much greater danger in a great power war.

Uboats are the only game in town, surface ships could have been used better particularly if coupled with forward bases. In any case Germany has this option whereas Russia does not.
 
I voted Germany only because I’m assuming the Russian political situation will deteriorate while the German one would only get stronger and become nearly impossible to dislodge from a WWI victory.
Meanwhile a Russian victory will always have powerful enemies surrounding it on top of having an incompetent foreign policy which would turn off potential neutrals and allies.

If we’re going ahead and not considering domestic politics then it’s obvious: Russia would be much more difficult to contain than Germany, especially for a struggling British Empire that would face a more powerful global empire that could encourage nationalist revolts in its most powerful conquest, India.
 
Imo people dramatically underestimate just how constrained Russia is by its neighbors and how bad its geographic position for threatening British interests is, up until the 1950s at the least. Germany's position has its shortcomings, but in the immediate following decades after WW1 it is far less crippling than Russia's.

Specifically, let's think of what the maximalist extent of Russian victory in WW1 is, and what the maximalist extent of German victory in WW1 is. If Russia won utterly and decisively - and this is a purely maximalist extent and has no reference to actual Russian war plans and war goals - then they can hope to carve off massive chunks off of Eastern Germany and Austria-Hungary, establish a strong forward network of client states in the Balkans, gain control over the Dardenelles and Istanbul, and take large parts of Eastern Anatolia. In cooperation with Japan, it may achieve an effective partition of Northern China.

... And then what? Russia still has distant and problematic naval geography for striking Britain, the French as a major military power on their western border, the Italians who will vie for influence in the Balkans, the combined naval strength of Britain, France, and Italy to oppose any real Mediterranean presence, massive and extremely difficult mountains and deserts to cross to strike Middle Eastern and Indian targets, and the vast, unabsorbable, population of China as well as Japan hemming it in in the East. Russia still has powerful great powers or terrible geography on every border, and its actual ability to pose a legitimate threat to Britain is nil up until the rise of atomic bombers and jet powered aircraft, and really has to wait for missiles to become truly effective.

By contrast, Germany's victory, in a maximalist program would gain massive colonial concessions across Africa, potentially Asia, the Pacific, move France into a firmly subjugated and almost client state stance, establish the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary as southern prolongments of German power, drive German expansion far to the East and knock out the Russians as a rival power - in essence, obliterate any real military rival to Germany on land, with nobody to hedge them in. The Germans would have a world wide network of power, no remaining great power rivals, and would be free to establish hegemony over Europe and the British would be isolated and dangerously exposed. Arguably even assuming the Russian Empire achieves remarkable progress in the sciences and technology, the more technologically advanced nature of Germany and its massively superior scientific base means that up until the 1960s it would still present a far greater military threat - it is only then that I could forsee an alternative Russian Empire, as compared to an alternative German Empire, being able to develop a comparatively greater nuclear arsenal and the airpower (also another thing which the Germans are far better placed to deploy against British) and rocket power to deploy it.

Sure Russia's absolute power in the long run is far more given its much larger population and resources, but in the short term - the better part of half a century probably - Germany is the far greater threat after victory, and perhaps always will be, given that Britain can always find allies to do the lion share of the defense against Russia, while it would have to shoulder the burden itself against Germany.

The British actually decided that Russia was more dangerous even before WWI. Their siding with Russia against Germany was partially the result of the general staff deciding that they could not protect India from the Russian army. Siding against Germany wasn't deciding it was the greater threat, it was an act of appeasement towards Russia.

Regardless, a Tsarist Russia that reached its full potential would have been more of a threat to the British Empire than Germany ever could have been. It would have been in an ideal position to strike India and the Middle East, and with Ukraine Britain could not have simply starved it out.
Which while interesting in regards to determining the British historical thinking that led to their alliance with Russia, is more useful in terms of the dangerous lunacy and unreality that has a tendency to sneak into British military thought than a realistic estimation of the actual threat potential of Russia to British India. The British general staff looking at thousands of kilometers of massive deserts, mountains which are easily fortifiable and with only a few viable passes, hostile tribes and people along the way who have clearly demonstrated their resistance to subjugation and their effectiveness against sustained occupation, almost complete lack of roads and an utter dearth of railroads, an opponent nation with major threats on both the Western and Eastern borders, and their prime colonial territory with hundreds of millions of people in it on the other side - and deciding that this was a credible threat speaks far more to the constant British overestimation of the power projection potential of Russia in Central Asia and their own tendency to fall for their own propaganda vis-à-vis the "Great Game" than any real Russian potential to invade India.
 
Well, it really depends on how these Empires might develop after the victory.

If Germany focuses on arranging the big mess that Central Europe was, then no. Otherwise if it focuses on expanding their colonies and naval power, yes.
Same for Russia: if it focuses on controlling their thousands of nationalities, no. If it focuses on messing things in the Himalayan area, yes.

Anyway, as an immediate threat I would say Germany, as it was a more instant threat to British interests in many fronts (both colonies and European balance of power). Russia might pose a bigger threat in a longer term.
 
Well, a victorious Germany and especially with the German industrial might would have had posed, from the British perspective, (colonial affaires aside) the very real danger in ways that Czarist Russia would have been unable to do that...
Given, that it'd have had implied that, as a matter of fact, Germany would have become in the Europe Hegemonic Power isolating/blocking off Britain from the Continent affaires... Something, that Britain had been fighting against since (at least) the wars against Louis XIV...
 
I'd say Russia because of colonization. Before the war, the Tsar had been pushing hard for the colonization of Siberia and Central Asia. From 1906 to 1913, the population living east of the Urals multiplied by two and a half. If that kept going, then the Russians would develop a sort of wheat belt along the southern reaches of Siberia, which at a similar latitude to the US-Canada border. Instead of a puny 30 million inhabitants, there might be up to 60 million Russian living in the Asian half of the country. Hell, considering that religious societies have higher broth rates, the almost theocratic Russian Empire would probably be able to colonize Central Asia as well. Having that strong a presence in Asia, Russia would be able to influence the region in a way Germany could only ever dream of.
 
The German Empire, since its founding in 1871, not one single time attempted to expand its European borders pre-WWI.... and what overseas colonies it picked up were basically the scrap that was left over after the other, more established, colonial powers had picked off theirs.
The Russian Empire had exactly one Emperor - Alex III - under whom no wars were fought either to expand Russia's territory or sphere of influence.
The Bear never hibernated for long... just saying...
 
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