The end of the 19th Century saw the height of colonialism. Most European countries had large colonial empires with colonies scattered throughout the world. Countries outside Europe, such as the United States and Japan, had also acquired their own colonies. Imperial Russia had really never established a colonial empire. As the largest country in the world, Russia was a land power and overseas colonies generally came with possession of a navy. The only large overseas colony possessed by Russia, Alaska, had been sold to the United States earlier in the century. However, as the 20th century neared Russia was in the colony business again with a focus on Imperial China and Korea. In the colonial game at the time, warships impressed the locals and one of the impact features was the number of funnels carried by a warship. The perception was that there was a direct correlation between the quantity of funnels of a ship and her power. British captains had been known to add fake funnels to their ships to make them look more impressive to the locals. Imperial Russia had one cruiser that did not need to add anything to impress in this arena and that was the protected cruiser Askold.
The Askold was built during a period of rapid expansion of the Imperial fleet. Russia wanted more warships than she had the capacity to build, so many of her ships were ordered from foreign yards. The Askold was built by Krupp in the firm’s Germania yard. The design was striking with five tall slim funnels, creating a very striking and elegant profile. The ratings in the Royal Navy nicknamed the Askold the "Pack of Players". This is because the popular British tobacco firm of Players produced packs of cigarettes with five to a pack. Laid down in August 1898 Askold was launched in May 1900 and completed in 1901. She was the fastest of the larger Russian cruisers with a maximum speed of 23.8-knots and carried twelve 6-inch/45 guns. Askold was sent to the Far East to join the Pacific Squadron based at Port Arthur. With this squadron her paint scheme was white with yellow funnels. However, unlike most of the squadron, Askold survived the Russo-Japanese War. In World War One Askold served in the Mediterranean but later was sent to the far north. Askold was seized in the White Sea by the British during the interventionist period of the Russian Civil War and commissioned as HMS Glory IV in August 1918 and was scrapped in 1921.