Russia has waged wars with Sweden for the Baltic States, Finland and the rule of the Baltic Sea for centuries. By the beginning of the XVIII century, the Swedes were able to oust the Russians from the region and turned the Baltic into a “Swedish lake”. The Swedish Empire became the main opponent of Russia in the north-west. In the XVIII century, the advantage passed to Russia. During the Northern War 1700-1721. Russian armed forces defeated the Swedes on land and at sea. In the world of Nishtad 1721, Sweden was inferior to Russia, the Baltic States and southwestern Karelia, retaining Finland. As a result, Sweden lost its possessions on the eastern coast of the Baltic and a significant part of possessions in Germany. Russia received access to the Baltic Sea. Sweden has lost the status of a great power.
The Swedish elite all century tried to take revenge, defeat Russia, to reject it from the shores of the Baltic. In 1741, Sweden declared war on Russia, counting on the weakening of the Russians during palace coups and after the war with Turkey. However, the Swedes lost a series of battles on land and at sea and asked for peace. According to the Abos peace, Russia did not put much pressure on Sweden. A part of Kümenigord and Neyshlot Lena with the Fortress of Nyslott and the cities of Vilmanstrand and Friedrichsgam withdrew to the Russian Empire. The main significance of the Abos peace was that the border was moving away from St. Petersburg and thus the danger of the enemy attacking the Russian capital was reduced. Thus, Russia consolidated its position on the Baltic Sea and strengthened the defense of the north-western borders. At the same time, Sweden again confirmed Russia's acquisitions in the Baltic States.
Preparing a new war
In 1743, under pressure from Russia, Adolf-Fredrik was declared heir to the childless King Fredrik. In 1751 he came to the throne. However, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna’s calculation for Adolf-Fredrik turned out to be erroneous, because after ascending the throne, his views on foreign policy issues coincided in many ways with the views of the party of hats, which adhered to anti-Russian orientation. The king reigned, and ruled the country Riksdag, more precisely, the government appointed by him. In the Riksdag and across the country, there was a struggle between the party of hats and the party of caps. In general, it was the struggle of the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie for power. The Hats were in favor of a revanchist war against Russia and the restoration of Sweden’s position on the political arena of Europe. They were guided by an alliance with France and Turkey. “Kolpak” preferred cautious foreign policy, opposed too wasteful spending of public funds (weapons, war), and for the expansion of trade, including with Russia.
Russia, both under Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine the Second, was friendly to Sweden. Petersburg did not have any territorial, economic or other claims to the Swedes. From the beginning of her reign, Catherine was completely absorbed in Polish and Turkish affairs. Russia was not up to Sweden. So, the son of Catherine, cesarevich Pavel Petrovich after the death of his father Peter III became the duke of Holstein-Gottorp. This duchy claimed Sweden and Denmark. In order not to have a reason for conflict in the north of Europe, Catherine in May 1773, forced her son to abandon the duchy. In addition, Catherine subsidized the party "caps" and individual peace-minded Swedish politicians and the military. Only a one-time package of money for this purpose, Ambassador Osterman made 337,9 thousand rubles. The purpose of the subsidies was not to disturb the peace in Sweden, but rather its stability. It is clear that St. Petersburg did this not out of love for the Swedes, but in order to untie its hands on the western and south-western strategic directions (Poland and the Black Sea region). In the North-West Russia, the main strategic tasks have already been solved. It is worth noting that France financially supported the party "hats". And the French just sought to change the existing political system in Sweden and plunge it into a war with Russia.
In 1771, Adolf-Fredrik died from a blow that happened after an overly heavy lunch (the monarch was in poor health). Throne was occupied by his son, cousin of the Russian Empress Catherine II (Adolf-Fredrik was the brother of Catherine's mother), Gustav III. He was considered an enlightened monarch, his education involved the best people of Sweden at that time. Gustav was well-read and, like Catherine, was no stranger to literary activity. He loved the theater very much, he even composed plays himself. His phrase: “The whole world is the stage of the stage. And all men and women are mostly actors ”entered into history.
Having received a large subsidy from France, Gustav organized a coup d'etat in order to strengthen the power of the monarch. In August, the Riksdag 1772, at gunpoint, passed a package of new laws that significantly expanded the powers of the king. The government became only an advisory body to the monarch. The Riksdag, in charge of which there was legislation and taxation, was now convened only by the will of the king. At the same time, from the very beginning of his rule, Gustav set out to prepare for war with Russia. Already in the 1775 year, he curled his confidants: “It must, without losing a single minute, prepare for defense. In order to end such a war as soon as possible, I intend with all my might to attack Petersburg and thus force the Empress to conclude peace. ”
At the same time, Gustav wrote kind letters to his sister Catherine and offered her a union. Catherine and Gustav exchanged friendly letters for several years. Gustav even came to meet with Catherine in Petersburg (1777) and Friedrichsgam (1783). During the second and last meeting, Catherine presented “brother” Gustav 200 thousands of rubles. Gustav took the money, but still boasted among his entourage plans for an attack on Russia. Catherine, who had her own eyes and ears at the Swedish court, knew about these plans. And even in 1783, she wrote to Gustav about this “idle talk,” that is, she actually warned the Swedish king.
Swedish king Gustav III (1746 — 1792)
The outbreak of war
Meanwhile, Stockholm decided that they had developed a favorable strategic environment. In 1787, the Russo-Turkish war began. The governments of Turkey and France allocated Sweden large subsidies for the war with Russia. With the start of revolutionary events in France, England also becomes the sponsor of the war against Russia party. In addition, Gustav introduced a royal monopoly on the production and sale of vodka, which allowed filling the treasury. The king decided that it was his finest hour. But according to the Swedish constitution, the king did not have the right to start a war first. True, there was a reservation in case Sweden was attacked. In the spring of 1788, Gustav's agents spread a rumor that the Russian fleet was preparing a surprise attack on Karlskrona. In fact, the Russian authorities at this time were preparing to send the best ships of the Baltic fleet to the Mediterranean for war with the Turks.
In St. Petersburg, they knew well about the preparation of the Swedish army and navy, but could not do anything. 27 May 1788, Ekaterina wrote to G. A. Potemkin: “But the mad king of Sweden will start a war with us, then ... I will appoint Count Pushkin as commander of the army against the Swedes.” Catherine the Second wanted to prevent the war with all her strength and hoped to the last that all Gustav’s preparations were a big bluff. So, 4 of June 1788 of the year she reported to Potemkin: “As long as the Turkish power is turned on you, the King of Sweden, receiving money from the Turks, armed the military ships to twelve and transfers the ships to Finland. All these demonstrations are going, I think, to the end in order to stop the fleet equipped to the Mediterranean. But this one, despite it, will go on its way ... ”Dale Catherine noted that the Swedes, apparently, would not start a war, stopping at a demonstration. “It remains to solve a single question, whether to endure the demonstrations? If you were here, I would decide in five minutes what to do, talking to you. If I were to follow my inclination, I would have ordered the fleet of Greigov and the squadron of Chichagov to break up the demonstration: the Swedes would not have built ships in forty years. But having done such a thing, we will have two wars, and not one, but, perhaps, will pull after themselves the consequences unforeseen. ” Thus, St. Petersburg feared war on two fronts, despite the obvious aggressive intentions of the Swedes.
By order of Catherine, the Russian ambassador in Stockholm, Count Andrei Razumovsky, gave the Swedes a note demanding clarification on the weapons of Sweden. At the direction of Razumovsky, this note was made public and was published in the Swedish press. Gustav took this quite peaceful message as an excuse for war. It is impossible, they say, the Russian ambassador to address the people and the Riksdag over the head of the king. The Swedish monarch presented Russia with an ultimatum: to punish the Russian ambassador; give Sweden land in Finland, withdrew to Russia under the contracts 1721 and 1743. and all of Karelia; Turkey to return the Crimea and make peace with Porto on the terms of the Ottoman Sultan; the disarmament of the Russian fleet and the return of ships sailed to the Baltic Sea.
It is clear that not a single state, without suffering a crushing defeat, would not have gone on to fulfill such conditions. Not surprisingly, after reading the note of Gustav, the Prussian ambassador to Russia, Baron Keller, remarked that it was “composed, of course, in confusion of the mind.” Obviously, Gustav overestimated his military skills and wanted to do what King Karl XII failed in the course of the Northern War. He wrote to his favorite, Armfelt: “The idea that I could avenge Turkey, that my name would become known to Asia and Africa, all had such an effect on my imagination that I didn’t feel much excitement and remained calm the moment I went to meet all kinds of dangers ... So I crossed the Rubicon. ”
Knowing that all the attention of the Russian government was drawn to the war with the Ottoman Empire, which had diverted our military forces to the southern frontiers of the state, Gustav, with our military weakness in the north, was absolutely sure of the success of the unexpected attack. By the beginning of the war, Sweden had 50-thousand. army and corps of the Finnish police in 18 thousand people. The plan of the Swedish command was to launch broad military operations in southern Finland and at the same time deliver a powerful blow to the Russian fleet in the home area, Kronstadt, thereby ensuring the landing of the landing corps near St. Petersburg. In the event of a lightning capture of St. Petersburg, Gustav hoped to dictate the world favorable to Sweden to the Russians. Thus, the Swedish king assigned the main role to the fleet in the war.
Russia was not ready for war in the north, all its main forces were concentrated against Turkey and in Poland: there were almost no troops on the Finnish border, except for the garrison fortress. In the south were the best commanders of Russia. The Russian troops in Finland under the command of V.P. Musin-Pushkin (Ekaterina was grateful for his support in 1762, but knew about his low military capabilities — she called her “insoluble bag”) numbered 18 — 19 thousand people. The Russian plan of war provided for a reflection of the Swedish forces in the event of an attack on Petersburg and a counterattack in the direction of Helsingfors and Gothenburg. For this, the troops were located in the Vyborg area.
Russian fleet (31 battleship and 16 frigates) despite numerical superiority was inferior to the Swedish fleet (23 battleships, 14 frigates) in armament, seagoing qualities of ships and the degree of preparedness of personnel. In addition, the government, despite the threat from Sweden, was still planning to send the best ships with the most experienced commanders and sailors to the Mediterranean. All maritime activities were aimed mainly at the urgent preparation of the Archipelago squadron. By May 27, a squadron intended for an expedition to the Archipelago (15 battleships, 6 frigates, 2 bomber ships, 3 boats, hospital ships and 6 transports) entered the Kronstadt raid. Three 100-gun ships “Saratov”, “Three Hierarchs”, “Chesma”, frigate “Nadezhda” and 3 of 5 transport of June were sent to Copenhagen under the command of Vice-Admiral V. Fondezin. Ships with a large draft could not pass the shallow Zund without preliminary unloading, which required considerable time. The rest of the squadron during this time was supposed to go to Copenhagen and connect with the squadron. Transports loaded with guns and other materials intended for the 5 ships and 2 frigates built in Arkhangelsk also went with this detachment. These vessels under the command of Rear Admiral I. A. Povalishin were sent from Arkhangelsk to Copenhagen to be connected with the squadron S. C. Greig. Simultaneously with the squadron V.P. Fonesisin from Kronstadt came out three frigates Mstislavets, Yaroslavn, and Hector to observe the Swedish fleet at Karlskrona, Sveaborg and the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia.
The Russian rowing fleet was completely unprepared for war. By the outbreak of hostilities, Russia had all the 8 available paddlers in the Baltic against Swedish 140. Meanwhile, the experience of previous wars has shown that a strong rowing fleet is necessary for successful operations among the islands and skerries of the Baltic Sea. True, Russia had an ally - Denmark. Sweden threatened Denmark with rejection of Norway, which was then in union with the Danes. According to the Tsarskoye Selo agreement with Russia 1773, Denmark pledged in the event of a Swedish attack on Russia to enter the war on the side of Russia, putting 12-thousand against Sweden army, 6 battleships and 3 frigate.
June 20 Swedish fleet out in the Gulf of Finland. He had the task of a sudden attack to defeat the Russian fleet in a decisive battle, and then block its remnants in Kronstadt. Having achieved dominance at sea, the Swedish command, given the weakness of the troops defending the Russian capital (the main forces of the Russian army were concentrated on the Finnish border), intended to transfer the 20-thousandth airborne corps from Finland on the ships of the galley fleet to Oranienbaum and Krasnaya Gorka. The fall of St. Petersburg, according to the Swedes, led to victory in the war.
The hostilities began on land. Using the provoked border incident, the king was able to start a war without the consent of the Riksdag. June 21 (July 2) 1788 of the year 36-th. the Swedish army led by the king, without declaring war, crossed the border into Finland. The Swedes attacked the customs post near the fortress of Nyslott and began its bombardment. Gustav sent an ultimatum to the commandant of the fortress, one-armed Major Kuzmin, in which he demanded that Nashlot be given. The brave officer replied to the king: "I am without hands and cannot open the gate, let his Majesty work for himself." As a result, the garrison of the Russian fortress from 230 man defied the Swedish army. Throughout the war, the Swedes never managed to open the gates of Nashloth.
Thus, the war began Sweden with the aim of revenge and the return of dominance in the Baltic. The Swedes were hoping for a blitzkrieg: to stun the Russians with a sudden blow, to destroy the Russian fleet and take Petersburg, forcing Catherine the Second to sign the world. Russia entered the war in an unfavorable situation, when its best commanders and troops were tied to the Ottoman Empire by war. The Russian Baltic fleet, despite its numerical superiority, was inferior to the Swedish fleet in armament, the seaworthiness of ships and the degree of preparedness of personnel.