Military Review

Secret Opinions of the College of Foreign Affairs

Crimeans joking - 45-th US President Donald Trump specifically timed his inauguration to the date when the peninsula celebrated the anniversary of the referendum, the last 20 of January 1991 of the year. That day, during the first in stories USSR plebiscite, residents of Crimea voted overwhelmingly (93,26%) for the re-establishment of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a subject of the USSR and a party to the Union Treaty, that is, for secession from the Ukrainian SSR. In 2014, this fact was not taken into account by the world community when holding another referendum in the Crimea (essentially, repeated) on its status.

The return of the peninsula under the jurisdiction of Russia provoked a sharply aggressive reaction from the West, an act unfairly called anschluss, by analogy with the events of March 1938, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria. At the same time, Western demagogues still ignore the irrefutable historical facts that Crimea joined Russia in the far 1783 year (Manifesto of Catherine the Great’s imperial majesty from April 8), and the world community agreed with this. And then for more than two centuries no one disputed the belonging of the peninsula, including the results of the Crimean War of 1853 – 1856, which Russia lost.

Austria, by contrast, had never before belonged to Berlin. Moreover, the lands that Berlin subordinated to itself in 1871, were once subject to Vienna, then state education is known in history as Sacrum Imperium Romanum Nationis Germanicae (Holy Roman Empire of Germanic peoples). But let us leave this correspondence dispute until better times, there is a subject that is more interesting to consider and is still unexplored to this day.

Let's talk about strategic thinking or planning, aimed at ensuring the security of the Russian southern frontiers at the beginning of the last quarter of the 18th century, using as an example reports addressed to Empress Catherine II, in the form of so-called secret opinions of the Foreign Affairs Collegium (KID). Of course, these opinions touched, together with the question of the ownership of the vast foothill Caucasian plains, the northern coast of the Black Sea, and the Crimean problem.

KID had a special status on a par with the Military and Admiralty collegiums and submitted directly to the Empress, bypassing the Senate. She was not affected by the 1775 reform of the year, when many boards were abolished.


The subject of our conversation largely concerns the secret activities of the Russian Empire’s Foreign Affairs Office (as modern military experts would say) aimed at ensuring the success of the Russian weapons in the south and southwest strategic direction.

The accession of Crimea itself became possible as a result of the Russian-Turkish war of 1768 – 1774, which ended with the peace concluded in Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhi (Bulgaria). St. Petersburg was forced to end the victorious war because of the Pugachev rebellion that engulfed the southern Trans-Volga region. Despite the difficult situation, Russia was able to achieve good conditions for itself during the intense Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhi peace talks.

The note by the head of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, Count Nikita Panin, on the most significant points of the agreement reached on ending the war with the Turks said: “The Tatars are recognized to be free and independent under the administration of the Khan of their own choice, Chingizite. They supplemented their spiritual submission to the Sultan, as the supreme Mahometan Caliph, and an agreement between them on matters of faith. Every new khan had to ask for the sultan's blessing, and the sultan to send it.

The Crimea and the Kuban, with those with all the outposts, are ceded to us and the lands before the Crimea and between the Bug and the Dniester, except Ochakovo, are given to the possession of the Tatars.

The liberty of our navigation in the Black Sea is recognized and allowed to pass our merchant ships through Constantinople, with benefits for our trade. Enikale, Kerch and Kinburn with the districts and the land lying between the Bug and the Dnieper ceded to us. The port is still obliged to pay us four million and a half rubles, etc., in three years. ”


By this time, Russia had overcome one of its main problems - the Pugachev revolt and subsequent outbreaks of popular discontent in different parts of the country were suppressed, but the southern borders of the empire remained still under the threat of war with Turkey and Persia.

Ottoman Porta was a great evil of the two presented and caused a lot of concern. Moreover, she did not seek to fulfill the conditions of the signed peace treaty. Taking into account the current situation, KID proposed to make efforts to ensure that the borders between the two empires were difficult to overcome obstacles, such as the sea, the Main Caucasus Range and the desert lands between the Dniester and the Bug rivers.

Two years after the conclusion of peace, the Crimean Tatars never became independent, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles were not open to Russian trade fleet, the indemnity was paid with great delays, the Turkish garrisons did not leave the fortress of Taman and Kuban, and the emissaries of Porta conducted subversive work among the Crimean Tatars, Nogais, Kabardians and other Caucasian peoples, inciting them to an armed uprising against Russia. Shagin-Giray was deposed and replaced; in Bakhchisarai, the protege of Istanbul, Davlet-Giray, reigned.

Secret Opinions of the College of Foreign Affairs

The report of the IAC on the failure of the Turks to provide independence to the Tatars stated: “The first of the provisions would clearly not be subject to difficulties if it were not for the law of Mohammedans. Since they have no separation between secular and spiritual authority and everything is governed and interpreted by Alcoran - their sole law, therefore, Tatar liberty cannot exist. Their spiritual obedience to the sultan destroys their independence from him, and the Caliph's blessing differs from the sultan by the charity of the title alone. Moreover, khans, kalga, nuraddins, seraskirs cannot have a different surname, besides Gireyskaya, in Chakiz, but they are all almost taxing and are contained by sultan's grace, and there is only a small number of them in the Kuban. Some and others are brought up in the knowledge of Alcorana and obedience to the sultan, and his areas serve as a refuge for them. Therefore, everyone is obliged to him by faith, and most of them by confession, and he fears to anger him. If there was such a Khan, who, like Shagin-Giray, lagged behind the Turkish obedience and hoped for our patronage, then in this case they have the means to destroy it with the curse of his fatwa, and with it all his novices. ” Not all Sunni Muslims recognized the caliph of the Turkish Sultan even within the Ottoman Empire, but for the Crimean Tatars it was such.

According to many formal features, in the opinion of the majority of ulamas (supreme theologians with a certain authority and having the right to issue a fatwa) of that time, a representative of the Ottoman clan could not become a caliph, that is, a deputy prophet. The fact is that the caliph must come from the Arab tribe Quraysh, since the Prophet Muhammad himself was Quraysh. In addition, Turkey perceived not just Sunni Islam, but Sufism, which the Salafis consider to be heresy. The Ottomans only formally appropriated the right of supremacy in Islam, relying on their ownership of the banner of the prophet and other relics of the faith, including the two main mosques of Al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Aqsa in Al-Quds (Arabic for Jerusalem).

Using her spiritual influence in the Crimea and the Caucasus, Turkey, in fact, declined to fulfill a significant part of the treaty. Russia to pacify the unrest was forced to deploy its troops at Perekop and in Taman. Istanbul demanded that they be removed and threatened that in response to the actions of St. Petersburg, it would send its troops to the same areas.

Moreover, the Port reoccupied the lands previously conquered by Russia between the Dniester and the Bug, which the latter provided for the Bujal Tatar horde on the basis of its independence from Turkey. Istanbul replaced the rulers of Moldavia and Wallachia, loyal to Russia, with their henchmen. Analyzing the current situation, Count Panin wrote to Catherine II: “It is better and more useful for us when she snaps (Turkey. -“ HBO ”) to leave us undecided - foresee her in our plans and in both cases we should try once and forever to unleash her and put yourself in a position so that our calmness from it will no longer hang. ”

KID corresponded with the Vizier, trying to prevent a conflict and forcing Porto to fulfill its obligations. It must be admitted that the tone of the messages from the Russian side was quite energetic, Istanbul was given two ways to choose between fulfilling the treaty or entering into a new war. The situation was aggravated by the steps of the Vienna court, which prompted the Turks to war with Russia. On the contrary, Paris and Berlin supported the position of St. Petersburg.

At once I want to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that the collegia materials in this article, which are kept in the archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contain no mention of Ukraine (now applying for Crimea), and it is clear why: such a state did not exist.

In 1776, in one of his messages, Nikita Panin formulated the reason for the annexation of Crimea to Russia as a forced act: “Until the Crimea remains in its former or present position, we cannot be calm. And there will always be a reason for the war with Porto. ” In the same letter, he continued his reasoning: “Options are possible. Destroy the Crimea to the ground and move the circle of their interests in the Kuban. The second option is to destroy the mosque in the Crimea and leave the peninsula behind. This peninsula is good for its ports, which is for the great benefit not only of the merchants, but also of our military courts. Without Crimea, we are prevented from entering the estuary of the Dnieper and Azov estuary. Ships have nowhere to hide during a storm. Only by owning the Crimea, you can get a large ship fleet on the Black Sea. Mastering the Crimea will make Porto leave us alone, otherwise our fleet could reach Istanbul.

What to do with the Crimeans? To destroy them would be inhuman and shameful in our age of glorious enlightenment. The relocation of Tatars to Bessarabia and from there to the Turkish lands will increase the number of our enemies. And restless and movable revenge. It is enough that if Shirinsky murzas remain behind the extermination, they will be released there to their Chingiz relatives. The transfer of Crimeans to the Kuban will encourage the peoples there to violence against the newcomers.

It is better to breed them from the Crimea in the Arkhangelsk and other local provinces of ours. But the easiest thing is to leave our army to the will to dissolve and shoot them everywhere. Where they will find themselves in a hostile Christian environment, and their number will naturally decrease, and the rest will be forced to accept local customs (this plan was not executed, and the Crimean Tatars were left in their usual places of residence. - "NVO").

And in the Crimea to settle Christians along the roads and along the rivers, give them Tatar possessions and exempt them for the first ten years. Moldovans can be sent here, and you can also the Poles (only from the Orthodox), and turn these lands from steppes into habitable ones and bring us many benefits. In Bakhchisarai, Karasu-lager and Kef and in other places with our military merchants and artisans living there will remain: Greeks, Armenians, Jews.

Balaklava and Keglava will be occupied by sea admiralty people and may be both or one of them military and the other merchant port. ”

According to Panin, it was expedient to the peoples inhabiting the plains to the north of the Main Caucasus Range, “leave everything as their own, free and independent and controlled by each generation to their elders, and they themselves will prefer this situation”. Since the North Caucasus was still under Russian control at that time, Count Panin suggested: “And in Taman and Kuban, destroy all the fortifications made by the Turks. And the Turks themselves, withdrawing from the roofing felts, let go into their homeland. Conclude with all the peoples in the Kuban and Taman peoples a treatise, guaranteeing them forever freedom and freedom to govern themselves and obliging them to silence, to evict themselves, and not to accept henceforth Gyreysky surname. To fence oneself from them with a defensive line so as to arrange for them reinforced in their own places and establish mutual bargaining in them so that they are terrible and useful to them. Now, they say, a line is already being built from Mozdok to Azov. It is desirable that it should be behind the Kabardians and that the other should go from the Malka River or from that line to the Black Sea. Sim limiting their possession of Kuban, dividing it with Kabardians, our subjects and other highlanders, and would have got rid of many troubles themselves. Let the Kabardian owners and the uzdans have left, if they wanted, if they were unhappy with this line, the people would stay with us and could, as a former Christian, and then remembering, turn again. The non-existence of the Khan in the Kuban will also destroy the Khan's obedience to the Sultan, conceived by Porto, as the supreme Moslem Caliph. And the inability of Alcoran to be another Mohammedan sovereign without such a spiritual sultan of obedience. "

In order to prevent the possibility of border conflicts between Russia and Turkey, the board proposed: “To separate from Porto and from the side of Bug, it must be the right time, as our intentions in the Crimea and Kuban will be executed, take Ochakov and ruin it completely, and let the Turks go beyond the Dniester . And this means to win, that the whole land between the Bug and the Dniester and between Poland and the Black Sea lies, given by the world of the Tatar region and now assigned by the Turks again, was empty and served as a barrier to both empires, so that they had the border between one Dniester and the other Bug. ”

At 1776, the year at the court of Empress Catherine the Great only thought about joining the Crimea, but connected it with the need to protect themselves from Turkish invasions. Intelligence investigating issues of external security of the state at a strategic level, as secret services did not exist anywhere in the world at that time, and the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, headed by Count Panin, essentially performed its functions. In addition, KID sometimes led the work, which is now assigned to the Security Council of the Russian Federation. I want to cite one of the documents of the era in which KID makes recommendations to the head of state on what needs to be done to secure its southern borders: “We need to have:

The military corps in the Crimea for the conquest of the local Tatars, their exit into our borders and the escort of this peninsula after its mastery.

The case in the Kuban for the capture and destruction of small Turkish fortresses or castles there, such as: Sujuk-Kale and others.

These two corps are already there, and it seems it will be enough to produce what is supposed to be in action. The one in the Crimea, even if it contributes to the uprising against the Tatars of the captured Christians, can be used to defeat the Tatars and, if necessary, strengthen the Kuban corps.

The corps at Mozdok or Azov is under the will of Kuban and for the sake of keeping the Tatars in fear and from that side.

The main army on the Bug, it is used to capture and destroy Ochakov. Some part will reflect the Turkish forces, reinforce the siege and the Crimea and look after our borders there.

A small army in the Polish Ukraine (we are talking about Podolia and Volyn. - "NVO"). This second army, while maintaining contact with the Main and corps in Poland, controls the movement of the Turks and appeals to the need for the aversion and destruction of the latter and can happen again in this part of Poland. Both of these armies could soon be composed, the first of the reserve on the Dnieper, and the other of the corps arriving in Ukraine. And from close to those sides of the troops.

The flotilla on the Black and Azov Sea to guard the Crimean and Kuban coasts from the landing of Turkish forces, to prevent them from entering the Dnieper estuary and the mouth of the Azov and to move the military and secular from place to place. Now they (consist. - "NVO") only (from. - "NVO") military frigates and few other ships, and therefore it is necessary to hurry as much as possible without sparing money with the structure of the new (frigates. - "NVO"), and more than ships.

A small fleet in the Archipelago (islands off the Turkish coast of the Aegean Sea. - "NVO"), in order to harm Porte there and divide its attention. Our military and merchant frigates can all be armed in Livorne and come back to our ship in the first case until our ships arrive there, used to be and stay with them there ”.

In addition to these measures, Panin offered to find an opportunity to send a separate corps to Imeretia in order to tear away the Georgian lands from Turkey and thereby further frighten Istanbul. Mindful of the recent Pugachev rebellion, Nikita Ivanovich suggested that the empress empress, in order to ensure internal and external silence, to keep additional troops within Russian borders near Moscow and Kazan.

In addition to Turkey, the threat at that era was Sweden, only in the XVIII century Russia fought with it in total for 25 years - in 1700 – 1721, 1741 – 1743, 1788 – 1790. To prevent an attack from this side, it was proposed to have troops ready to repel it, and at least two squadrons in the Baltic against Swedish warships. To suppress possible troubles with the western neighbor, it was also necessary to keep small, but sufficient forces at the Russian-Polish borders.


Having the ability to organize the observation of the Turkish troops by the forces of his department, Count Panin, naturally, could predict the actions of the Ottoman troops. In his opinion, the Turks could have chosen two main directions for moving armies by the end of 1776. In a letter to KID, addressed to Catherine, it says: "Starting a war or being pro-empted by us, they will gather (the Turks. -" NVO ") to Moldova and without a doubt will rush to Ochakov and the Crimea to save them from our hands.

They will have to pass from the Dniester to the Bugsky and Dnieper estuaries by the steppe and carry with them the food they need and the military shells. Driving them dry and water will be difficult for us (the troops. - "NVO"), and therefore they can easily feel the lack of it. Judging by this, they should come to the Dniester fatigued and dissatisfied. Well, our army, on the contrary, waiting for them almost within its borders, will neither be weary nor have the need for the ability to deliver it to its needs. This alone gives us the surface above them, but adding to this the military art of our leaders and the courage of the soldiers who came to defeat them, we have full hope in gaining victory. After this, they will not appear there soon and will leave us free hands. ”

Panin's plan also provided for the second direction of the offensive of the Turkish troops: “If the Turks will also enter Poland in the intention to go to our borders or just destroy the land there, then our second army can destroy one and the other. If they had entered there with all their might, either the Polish insurgents or the Austrians began to help them, in all these cases the main army, not far from the second, would unite with it and collectively especially, or placing between two fires, they were sufficient there will amaze them. In either case there is no need for us to renew the conquest of Moldavia and Wallachia. They do not provide us with significant benefits, and only by taking fortresses for this destroys our people. ”

This document is still interesting because it shows how the military alliances of that era changed. After only a decade in the Russian-Turkish war of 1787 – 1791, St. Petersburg and Vienna were already allies. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which had already survived the first section in 1772, during which Austria and Russia also performed in a consolidated manner, waited two more sections in 1793 and 1795 years and a complete collapse. After which the territory of this once great state, stretching from sea to sea, was torn between the Russian and Austrian empires and the Prussian kingdom. Catherine II used the Polish royal throne as a toilet seat for her toilet.

Let us return to the Panin plan of military operations. In particular, it said that it was not difficult to keep Bessarabia and Moldavia behind them, moreover, not only this, but also independent of them from Ports is subject to difficulties. The Viennese court would resist it, as he did in the former war, renouncing for the opportunity presented by the Prussian king to Semigrad land to accomplish the accession of the whole of Wallachia. Temporary conquest will only give him a reason. However, the compiled accession of these commemorated principalities and Bessarabia, especially possession of them will leave us a lot of useless worries, by establishing two or three possessions in them, we will prepare a sacrifice to the Vienna court, and he will swallow them one by one. ”

Getting acquainted with this plan, one should be aware that Vice-Chancellor Panin was a Germanophile, not everything he proposed, if the question concerned relations with Austria and Prussia, could have undisputed benefits for Russia. One important fact is striking, which is worth saying a couple of words, taking into account the realities of the 21st century. Please note: in the 1776 year, the country of Romania, now thirsting to absorb Bessarabia and other lands of its neighbors, did not exist, it arose only a century later thanks to the good will of the Russian monarch.

And in those early years, Vice-Chancellor Count Panin recommended not to claim the territory of the Danube principalities, but only to demonstrate the intention to besiege Bendery and Khotyn and to invade Moldova with one intention: “to induce the local inhabitants and the Vlachs to promise them various benefits in case of resettlement to the Crimea and the land nearest to it ".

Continuing to set forth his vision of a possible Russian-Turkish military campaign, Nikita Petrovich noted that “the Turks can also bring sea to the Crimea and the Kuban. Our flotilla will not be able to resist the Turkish fleet, we can notify our troops and guard the entrances to the Sea of ​​Azov, estuary and ports. The number of Turks in this case cannot be large, and ours, reinforcing each other, are able to repel them and force them to retreat to court.

Such their arrival should predict us the execution of the proposed and choose the time when the winds will make it more difficult to land.

After the Crimea will be in our hands and without Tatars, and in the Kuban fortifying them (the Turks. - “NVO”) will go bankrupt, they cannot hold out there and it will always be easy for us to defeat them and spew them from roofing felts ”.


In the year of the annexation of the Crimea to the Russian Empire, Count Ivan Andreevich Osterman was already at the head of the KID. Curious is the document prepared by 28 in March by the collegium and sent to the Most High Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin, in whose hands were all the Crimean affairs. That is, 10 days before the signing by Catherine the Great of the manifesto "On the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the island of Taman and the entire Kuban side under the Russian state."

The board informed that the Russian treasury was suffering losses due to the need to maintain the Tatar court and maintain its troops in the Crimea. Costs by that time reached 20 million rubles. (astronomical sum for the XVIII century). At the same time, Turkey seeks to regain the peninsula, which could lead to war with it.

Count Osterman in the rescript insisted on the need to annex Crimea to Russia, he wrote that Khan Crimean Shagin-Giray agreed to St. Petersburg’s offer to give him possession in Persia, and recommended Prince Potemkin to start seizing them immediately by the corps entrusted to him. "And having occupied, first publish the manifesto from Her Imperial Majesty, forwarded by his own name or universal". It was assumed that after the death of Shagin-Giray, these possessions would remain with the Russian crown, this was part of a plan aimed at “owning the Caspian Sea”.

KID recommended to indicate in the manifesto: “the reasons that prompted the occupation of the Crimea: encouraging residents that they will enjoy freedom of faith, the right of inalienable property and all the benefits that natural Russian citizens enjoy, being protected by Her Majesty’s power and that the well-known people will be distinguished by their nobility and dignity. "

Yakov Bulgakov, a Russian envoy in Istanbul, was sent an encryption - “a secret rescript in numbers, informing him in advance about all of this and commanding to keep that secret, in case of a rupture with Porta, to keep his archive, hence the exact instructions, or the Vizier will force him to explain, so that at that call he will say the reasons that prompted him, and as one of them, to take away, in any case, quarrels with Porta, turn and convenience to keep peace with her , teaching her that the strongest assurances. But it would have taken the Port as a sign of hostile actions, formally declared war, in which case he should demand leave for himself and not make any visits to leave. ”

Further, Count Osterman proposed to send “a rescript to field marshal Prince (according to modern historians, he was a count. -“ NVO ”) to Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, explaining to him the local intentions, a backup plan of operations in case of rupture (with Turkey. -“ NVO ”), attaching description of the troops and assigning everyone to his main team now. Immediately including some instructions in the event of a break, empowering him to treat with the Turks.

He must also make confidential about our position with the Austrians, for an agreement with them about maneuvers. ”

To preserve good relations with the allies and other powers, Count Osterman recommended: “By agreement with Prince Potemkin, write Her Majesty’s letter to the emperor (Austrian. -“ NVO ”), without making him a detailed message about Crimea. But to say only in response to his letter, in the most courteous terms, that in His own Majesty’s opinion, the present time is not so convenient to bring into action the great intentions of which both sovereigns had previously agreed. What leaves Her Majesty to meet at the first opportunity with His Majesty about all that his letter contains, assuring him of his willingness and disposition to help increase the glory of his power of the Austrian monarchy. Her Majesty, being confident in the alliance and friendship of the emperor, has no doubt that if the king is Swedish or Prussian, and especially the last one, will inflict any sabotage or attack, the emperor will give all sorts of benefits, as well as Her Majesty will not deny him at all on the part of his neighbors, attacking, honoring his interests at the same time and confident, however, that all that is pleasing to her ally for the silence and advantage of her empire, as well as her benefits and peace of mind, Her Majesty is pleasant.

He called on the Danish Minister to talk about our unfinished business with Porto and about the constant troubles, and, moreover, about the news received, that the Swedes have shown some respect for us, which is why they should be given a vigilance and readiness by the parties.

Danish and Prussian ministers to announce after the Tzarish two days later (about the intentions of the Russian crown towards the Crimea. - “NVO”). And on receipt of a detailed report (on the course of the annexation of the Crimea. - “NVO”) and other things, simply say, without any written notation, allowing only to understand the reasons and good intention to take away the excuse to break. ”

These documents show the greatness of the Russian state in an era when the United States and many other countries were not yet on the political map of the world.

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  1. Cat
    Cat 29 January 2017 06: 42
    It remains only to say "in spite of everything the Crimea is ours !!!"
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 29 January 2017 08: 01
    His returned ... Blood paid ...
  3. soldier
    soldier 29 January 2017 08: 11
    An interesting article on a relevant topic. Thank!
  4. Monarchist
    Monarchist 29 January 2017 21: 50
    With a huge creak, but the Crimea was included in the RI. The Turks and our "well-wishers" were in shit for a long time, but ... Damn, Nikita was tempted to fool the corn-bearer, and then the "Belovezhskaya Posdelki"