During the negotiations for the Third Coalition in 1805, one of Russia's demands for entering the coalition was that Malta be evacuated by Britain. The British, desperate to have Russia as an ally, ultimately accepted to this, and prepared to seize Minorca from Spain instead as an alternative base (something which was by no means assured of success). However, while the orders for this were en-route, Napoleon annexed Genoa, Austria thus entered the alliance, and the Russian demand was scratched. So what if Napoleon held off the annexation of Genoa for a period of time, and Malta was evacuated by the British, becoming independent but with Russia as the protector of the order, per Alexander I who styled himself "Protector of the Order." What would be the long term effects of Malta being independent, if under Russian influence, and Britain not having it as their base in the Mediterranean? Would they have to instead pursue Minorca to the detriment of relations with Spain (if that is even possible, since it might not be possible to take it), or do without a purposeful Mediterranean base of a whole?