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The coast of Sagallo

A little known aspect of the history of African colonialism is that the Russian Empire had attempted to colonize Africa, as the nation wanted a port between it's holdings in the Black Sea and the Pacific Coast. In our timeline, the French were quick to expel the Russian expedition into what they claimed as their land, and the colony of Sagallo was lost to history. However, what if the Russians were more serious (and more militaristic) about the ports that they had wanted to obtain?

However, what if the Russians were successful in acquiring a colony in Djibouti? How would this change both the histories of both Russia, Africa, and even the rest of the world as a whole, from African involvement in the Cold War to the modern-day geopolitical state in what is now Eastern Africa. How such an event would change the histories of all nations involved is disputable, though the Sagallo timeline is just one take on the matter.

Point of Divergence


Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov, founder and first head of Russian Somaliland

In 1883, the adventurer and burgess of the city of Penza, Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov visited the Empire of Ethiopia in order to establish political and diplomatic ties between the two countries. After his return to his homeland of Penza in 1888, he voiced his plans for an expedition to the region of Somaliland, in order to set up a port in between Russia's possessions in the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

On December 10 of that year, Achinov along with 165 Terek Cossacks, left from the port city of Odessa on the Kornilov cruiser, headed towards Alexandria, which was now a British port. His expedition then boarded the Lazarev, which brought them to Port Said; a city established during the building of the Suez Canal. After their arrival in Port Said, Achinov rented the Austrian Amfitrida, from which they entered the Gulf of Tadjoura and landed in what is now Djibouti, where they were greeted by Ethiopian priests.

On January 14, shortly after the Cossacks arrived, the abandoned Egyptian fort of Sagallo was chosen as the base of the expedition, and it was renamed New Moscow. Shortly afterwards, rumors about the size of the expedition had spread quickly throughout the Russian press; however life in the colonies at first wasn't as good as expected. Achinov struggled to keep the Cossacks under control, and they would frequently raid the local Danakil Afars, using gunfire to drive them off; afterwards Achinov gave the local sultan sixty francs in reparations for the attacks.

Shortly after Achinov had repaid the Danakil Sultan, the French had noticed the colony after a few colonists escaped to Obock and informed them of the whereabouts of the Russian colony. On the fifth of February, the local Cossack populace noticed a fleet of one cruiser and three gunboats. An ultimatum was issued, though Achinov misunderstood it and did not surrender, leading up to the outbreak to the Tajuura War.

Unlike our timeline, the Russian government didn't arrest and disavow Achinov and the colonists, rather backing them up in the Russian attempt to encourage shipping between their possessions in the Black Sea and the Russian Pacific coast. Despite disagreement with Tsar Alexander, the vast majority of the government of the Russian government agreed to the declaration of war against the French Republic after the Odessa Conference; thus breaking Alexander's reputation as a "peacemaker" and leading to yet another French surrender to a fellow great power; further perpetuating the "cheese-eating surrender monkey" stereotype surrounding the nation. The Tajuura War ended in 1891, two and a half years after the start of the war in the early months of 1889.