It is true that we left the Circassians alone with their terrible misfortune. Yet we needed help from them and we used them.
Lord Palmerston, Minister for War, addressing the British Parliament, 1856
Throughout the mid-19th century British military and diplomatic advisers and spies were operating in the Caucasus and throughout the Ottoman Empire to keep their government informed about Russian activities in the region. During the Crimean War Britain was encouraging Circassian resistance to Russia particularly during the Crimean War. Two British military spies who were particularly active in the Caucasusin the 1830s and then in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan were Arthur Conolly (who travelled under the name of Khan Ali) and Charles Stoddart. Both were executed as spies in 1842 by the Emir of Bokhara. In 1856, not long after the end of the Crimean War, Lord Palmerston, admitted in Parliament that in its attempts to frustrate Russian policy in the Caucasus the British Government had made use of the Circassians when it suited them but had not gone to their aid when it was needed during the Russo-Circassian War.