The expansion of Russia under Catherine the Great

Even before the reign of Catherine, Russia was involved in several wars, including the Northern War and the War of the Austrian Succession. Under Peter the Great (1682-1725) the former backward Russian army became a powerful and modern force. This Katharina took advantage of in her reign and enlarged her country by a considerable area.




The Russian-Polish War:

From 1768, with French support, aristocrats under the leadership of Stanislaw August Poniatowski began to repress Russian supremacy over their country as a confederation. The revolution, however, could not prevail permanently, as the dismissal of the reigning Polish king was not successful and the Russian forces under the command of General Alexander Suvorov, the Confederate soldiers permanently wore down.

In 1772 Poland could be pacified for the most part again, the rebels were either dead or banished. Russia then divided some parts of Poland together with Prussia and Austria, leaving only one rump state.

1792 and 1794 two more campaigns were conducted against Poland, where once again a rebellion flared up. After the conquests, the rest of Poland was again divided among the three great powers and the state of Poland had ceased to exist for the time being.


Die Teilung Polens im 18. Jahrhundert

The division of Poland in the 18th century




The Russian-Turkish War:

By the middle of the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire was already in decline. The rulers had failed to adapt the former formidable realm of the new era, and especially to modernize its forces.

Nevertheless, the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III. after the beginning of the Polish rebellion in 1768 encouraged Russia to declare war. On the Russian side, Count Alexei Orlow led the armed forces. The first victory he could record with two squadrons in the Mediterranean, when they destroyed in July 1770 in the Bay of Cesme off the island of Chios, a whole Ottoman fleet. An attempt to move Greece to the Russian side to enter the war, however, remained at the time.

On land, the Russian General Count Pyotr Rumyantsev led his troops against the Ottomans and their Tatar allies. At the river Larga and at Kagul he was able to win great victories and push back the Ottomans. Subsequently, no major offensives were conducted. This did not change until 1774 when General Alexander Suvorov joined the Russian army and conquered large parts of Bulgaria. After these losses, the Ottoman Empire was forced to comply with the peace of Kuchuk Kainardschi and assured Russia ports on the Black Sea, as well as the free passage to the Mediterranean.

However, after the peace agreement, Catherine's plans of conquest did not end. With her lover Prince Potjomkin she forged further campaigns that were implemented 9 years later. Khanate was annexed in 1783, and a protectorate over Georgia was established in the Caucasus. Further, Russia allied itself with Austria to initiate the final defeat of the Ottoman Empire. After this alliance, the new Sultan Abdülhamid I was forced to declare war on Russia again in 1787.

General Alexander Suvorov again led the Russian troops and conquered the Ottoman fortress Otschakiw in 1788 after a 6-month siege by Prince Potyomkin. 1789 an Ottoman army was defeated at Focsani, 1790 fell the fortress Ismail, which dominated the Danube Delta. With the victory over Ismail, the Ottoman Empire was defeated militarily and ended in 1792 the war with Russia.




The Russian-Swedish War:

When the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia for the second time in 1787, the Swedish king Gustav III. able to undo the ignominy of the Nordic war and return Sweden its supremacy in the Baltic Sea region.

There followed heavy fighting between the Russian and Swedish warships, which ended with a Russian defeat at Svensksund. Although Sweden was able to defeat Russia on the water, however, a landing of troops to conquer St. Petersburg failed. Thus, in 1790, a compromise peace was concluded between the two countries.


Karte Russlands vom 14. bis 20. Jahrhunderts

Map of Russia from the 14th to the 20th century




The end of the Russian conquest wars:

With the death of Catherine the Great, the Russian aspirations ended in territorial expansion. In the reign of Catherine the country was able to increase its area by about 518,000 square kilometers, which corresponds to the approximate size of France. In addition, Russia was able to secure important access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.






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