Military Review

Russia is an empire of justice: XVI – XVIII centuries

Russia is an empire of justice: XVI – XVIII centuriesFrom the editorial office of "RN": we present very curious historical the insights of an undoubtedly liberal author about the role of Russian civilization in world processes. Despite the certain controversy of some of the author’s claims (for example, regarding Russia’s “bending sticks” in the uprising of Tadeusz Kostyushka), these thoughts and conclusions of Sergei Tikhonov, published for the first time in the journal Expert in 2012, are significant and interesting.

Having plunged headlong into the study of the history of Russian foreign policy and various geopolitical theories - from the teachings of Heartland by Sir Mackinder to the theory of long cycles by George Modelsky, I had to come to very patriotic conclusions about the role of our country in world historical processes. For almost the entire period of its existence as a sovereign geopolitical entity, it seeks to play a constructive role, balance global imbalances, and even in periods of increasing its own sovereign influence to oppose the "evil forces" and try to pacify violent aggressors. Paradoxical as it sounds, the struggle for "justice" can be called the main vector of the foreign policy of the Russian state. Moreover, this trend can be traced to this day.

I do not think that it would make any sense to analyze in the context of global politics the periods of tribal coexistence and semi-primary Middle Ages in the history of Russia. Then the foreign policy of the countries of the whole world was reduced mainly to the maximum seizure of resources, coupled with bloody internecine wars. And it cannot be said that Kievan Rus was a fully formed state, because under the rule of Kiev only about 40% of East Slavic (that is, just ethnically Russian) tribal unions and principalities were united. After the invasion of the Mongol-Tatars and this partial ethnic union was destroyed.

Speech about the centralized state of "Rus" can be conducted (and even with some reservations) only from the time of getting rid of the Mongol yoke and the establishment of Moscow's power in the entire territory inhabited by the East Slavic ethnos (except for the territories that have departed Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). Officially, the last of the specific principalities in the Russian state entered the Ryazan principality - in 1521 year. A little later, the main institutions of power of the new country took shape: in 1547, the Grand Duke of Moscow (then Ivan IV) first crowned the kingdom, and in 1549, the first estate-representative body, the Zemsky Sobor, was convened.


The Muslim civilization, which founded the powerful military-political center (Golden Horde) in Asia in the XIV century and reached the middle Russian lands in its aggressive expansion, was thrown back. However, after the liberation of Russia, and at the same time the whole of Europe, from the Mongol-Tatar yoke, the issue of security on the southern borders was not resolved. Our southern neighbors still could not calm down and made attempts to take revenge. therefore

the foreign policy of the centralized Moscow state in the first period of its formation in the XVI-XVII centuries was mainly to protect its citizens

from the expansion of aggressive Islamic nomadic tribes, who constantly plundered, killed and enslaved the population of the southern regions of the country. Sometimes nomads who burned entire cities in their path reached Moscow and tried to completely capture the then Russia, and simply destroy the Russian nation, in order to then begin exterminating other European nations (by the way, wrote the Crimean khan Devlet-Girey in a letter to the Kazan Khan ).

Periodically raids were carried out in the neighboring western regions of Russia for the taking of full (slaves), attacks on estates, etc. In August 1521, the Kazan Khan Sahib Giray’s forces made a military campaign against the Nizhny Novgorod, Murom, Klin, Meshchersky and Vladimir lands and joined the army of the Crimean Khan Mehmed Giray at Kolomna. Then they besieged Moscow and forced Basil III to sign a humiliating treaty. During this campaign, according to the Russian chronicles, about 100 thousand people were taken in full! This is about 3% of the population.

In total, the Kazan Khans made about forty trips to the Russian lands, mainly in the areas near Nizhny Novgorod, Vyatka, Vladimir, Kostroma, Galich and Murom. After attempts to place Kazan at the head of Moscow loyal to Khan, Ivan IV undertook a series of military campaigns. The first two did not succeed, and in 1552, the Moscow Tsar for the third time laid siege to the capital of the Khanate. After the explosion of the city walls, gunpowder laid in secretly undermined by gunpowder was taken by storm. The Kazan Khanate ceased to exist, and the Middle Volga region was annexed to Russia.

However, this saved Russia only from a small part of the problem of destructive raids from the south. The Astrakhan Khanate, which was a branch of the Nogai Horde and the Crimean Khanate (the Khans were appointed there by the Nogai or the Crimean Khan), was the next in intensity of the raids. The rapid and relatively "bloodless" (compared to the Kazan Khanate) liquidation of the independence of Astrakhan in 1554 was a major foreign policy success of Russia and led to an acceleration of the collapse of the remnants of the Golden Horde empire: The battlefield also included the territory of modern Bashkiria in Russia.

The next foreign policy task in the Volga region was to ensure the security of Russia on the part of the Crimean Khanate, which remained its strongest opponent throughout the 16th century. The Crimean Tatars mastered the tactics of raids to perfection, choosing the path along the watersheds. Having gone deep into the populated area on 100-200 kilometers, the Crimeans turned back and, spreading wide wings from the main detachment, engaged in looting and capturing people. Prisoners were sold to Turkey and even to European countries. The Crimean city of Kaffa (the current Theodosius) was the main slave market. To oppose the barbarians every year, Moscow collected up to 65 in the spring thousands of warriors and sent them to the southern borders.

Further expansion of Russia took place under the influence of the concept of "protecting neighboring nations" (while, of course, the empire naturally expanded).

First, to defend against Bukhara, the Siberian Khan accepted a vassal dependence on Moscow. In 1557, the Kabardian nobility arrived in Moscow to ask for protection from the Crimean Tatars. In 1561, Ivan IV the Terrible married the daughter of the famous Kabardinian prince Temryuk Idarov - Idarche Guashenay, and after being baptized in Moscow, she became Queen Mary. The Russian tsar made a responsible decision in response to the request of the Kabardian princes and accepted Kabarda into the country. Although, when in 1571, and then in 1574 (after the flight of Anjou), the Polish Sejm decided to make him king of Poland, he refused, because this required a change of faith. Because this, in turn, would lead to riots and bloodshed both in Russia and in Poland itself.

Then the history of Russia was marked by a great liberating mission to Siberia, designed, on the one hand, to stop the constant looting of its southeastern regions from the Siberian Khanate, and on the other, to free its neighbors from Kuchum’s brutal power. I mean the campaign of the Cossacks to the East under the leadership of Ermak. In 1581, a Cossack squad (more 540 people) was invited by the Ural merchants Stroganov to protect against regular attacks from the Siberian khan Kuchum and went up the Kama, and in June 1582 of the year arrived on the Chusovaya River, in the Chusov towns of the Stroganov brothers. Here the Cossacks lived for two months and helped the Stroganovs defend their towns from the predatory attacks from the Siberian Khan. To strategically solve the problem of raids once and for all, 1 of September 1581 of the year, a Cossack squad under the command of Ermak launched a campaign for the Stone Belt (Ural).

According to the Remez chronicle, Kuchum established his power in Western Siberia with extreme cruelty. This led to the unreliability of the detachments of the Voguls (Mansi), the Ostyaks (Khanty) and other indigenous peoples, forcibly assembled by him in 1582 to repel the Cossack invasion. After several victorious battles of 26 in October 1582, Yermak entered the city of Siberia (Kashlyk), abandoned by the Tatars. Four days later, the Khanty people brought fur and foodstuffs as gifts to the conquerors. Yermak "with affection and greetings" met them and released them "with honor." The local Tatars pulled over the Khanty with gifts. Yermak accepted them as "affectionately", allowed them to return to their villages and promised to protect them from enemies.


In the western direction of Russian foreign policy in the 16th century, our sovereigns had to deal with the hardened egoism of Catholic Europe and pursue a policy of restoring elementary laws of justice in relation to the citizens of Russia. The Livonian Confederation stubbornly tried to establish total control over the transit of Russian trade and significantly limited the capabilities of Russian merchants. In particular, the entire trade exchange with Europe could be carried out only through the Livonian ports of Riga, Lindanise (Revel), and it was possible to transport goods only on the ships of the Hanseatic League. At the same time, fearing the economic gain of the Russian Kingdom, the Livonian Confederation prevented the transportation of strategic raw materials and specialists to Russia (see the Schlitte case), receiving assistance from the Hansa, Poland, Sweden and the German imperial authorities. In the spring of 1557, on the banks of the River Narva, Tsar Ivan IV sets the port. However, Livonia and the Hanseatic League do not allow European merchants to enter the new Russian port.

Ivan the Terrible, as a caring sovereign, decided to end this humiliation. But

On the side of Livonia several large countries, representing virtually the whole of Europe, took the floor (we note that we will meet such a zealous unity of the European peoples against Russia more than once)!

In addition to the Livonian Order, the major powers of the continent fought against Russia - Sweden, Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, England. And even the sacred German emperor himself did not stand aside. Anything to prevent the Russians from gaining and, in general, God forbid, create conditions for the free development of the Moscow state. We will not go into the intricacies of military action. Let us just say that the above-mentioned problem of free trade by the Russian army was very effectively solved. The Revel merchants, who had lost their most important profit item — income from the Russian transit, complained to the Swedish king: “We stand on the walls and tearfully watch the merchant ships pass by our city to the Russians in Narva.”


In the 17th century, our restless Western neighbors repeatedly tried to seize the Russian land again. Taking advantage of the distemper, in September 1609, the Polish king, Sigismund III, laid siege to Smolensk. 1610 released in spring to the rescue of Smolensk army, commanded by Prince Dmitry Shuisky, was attacked on the way and defeated by the hetman Zolkiewski by Polish troops at Klushin. The Seven Boyars (the Boyar Duma) entered into negotiations with the king, agreeing to recognize Vladislav as their tsar under the conditions of preserving the independence of the Moscow throne and the adoption of Orthodoxy by Vladislav. After that, Zolkiewski moved to Moscow and occupied her on the night of 20 on September 21. Smolensk was also taken by the Poles after a year and a half siege (3 June 1611 of the year).

In 1611, the collapse of Russian statehood was prevented by Don Cossacks led by Prince Trubetskoy, who moved to Moscow and drove the Poles back to the Kremlin, and in August, the Nizhny Novgorod militia under Pozharsky's command appeared in Moscow 1612; The 22 and 24 of August were defeated by Polish-Lithuanian reinforcements marching towards Moscow. October 22 was taken by Kitay-Gorod, but the Poles still held the Kremlin. After a two-month siege, the invaders surrendered completely. In 1618, the Poles tried unsuccessfully to capture Mozhaisk, after which they marched on Moscow, where Zaporozhye Cossacks joined them, under the command of the bribed traitor Hetman Sahaidachny. After an unsuccessful assault on Moscow and the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Vladislav began negotiations, which led to the conclusion of the Deulinsky truce for 14,5 years; the Poles were ceded Smolensk, Chernihiv and Seversk lands.

In the reign of Mikhail Fedorovich, the first tsar from the Romanov dynasty, Cossacks and settlers master Eastern Siberia, establish Yeniseisk, Kuznetsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yakutsk, go to the Pacific Ocean. By the middle of the XVII century, Russian settlements appear in the Amur region, on the coast of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, in Chukotka. In 1645, Cossack Vasily Poyarkov discovers the northern coast of Sakhalin. In 1648, the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev passes from the mouth of the Kolyma River to the mouth of the Anadyr River and opens the strait between Asia and America.

It should be noted that no violence was used at the same time - the usual geographical expeditions. There were purely diplomatic successes. In 1681, the Bakhchisaray peace treaty was concluded - an armistice agreement for 20 years with the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate. Thus, Russia received a respite in the south. In the 1689 year, the Nerchinsky Treaty, the first treaty between Russia and China on the border, trade and settlement (Russia ceded almost all lands of the Upper Amur to the Qing empire, since Chinese diplomats convinced the rulers in Moscow that this was their historical territory).


Based on the facts known to historical science, I am pleased to conclude that

for the period of statehood formation in the XVI-XVII centuries, Russia did not break firewood in any of the foreign policy directions. Major actions outside the country were quite sensible.

and did not include any unintended acts of aggression against other nations. The armed forces were used to protect the population from mass murder, robbery, slavery and other forms of brutal violence from Islamic nomadic tribes, as well as to repel the military and economic aggression of European empires. The foreign policy doctrine was subordinated to the tasks of restoring justice in the framework of the concept of equal trade relations, the development of new uninhabited territories and was designed to ensure the possibility of normal socio-economic development of the country within the framework of the existing historical formation.

XVIII century

During the first period of statehood in the 16th-17th centuries, Russia was able to protect its population from the brutal expansion of nomads, repel the aggression of European empires, master new, uninhabited territories and ensure equal trade and economic development. At the same time, the country naturally expanded and acquired access to the seas and international trade routes. In the 18th century, Russia will continue to tackle the same tasks, taking into account the imperative of historical justice, which will now be used not only within its traditional sphere of influence, but also on a global scale.

Chesme battle. Engraving 1770 of the year


During the Thirty Years War, Sweden conquered about half of the so-called holy Roman states. King Gustav Adolfus planned to become the new Holy Roman Emperor, control the whole of Europe, and then become an autocratic "ruler of the continents" (as he himself put it), but he died in the battle of Lützen in 1632. However, the memory of his cruelty remained in the history of most European countries, as well as the current US state of Delaware, in place of which the Swedish colony existed for some time. The idea of ​​his ancestor about world domination through the extermination of peoples decided to continue the young Karl XII, who already in 13 was one of the most odious murderers of his era. The favorite hobby of the monarch boy was to carry out torture in the dungeons of a special dungeon of the palace, and subsequently public dismemberment in the town square. Already in the 16 years, the new king stood at the head of the army and began his bloody conquests. He argued that "people for the sake of their well-being and freedom must submit to the authority of a fair Swedish crown. The rest are simply fools - they are not people, but rams worthy of death."

The struggle for the independence of the northern German principalities from the Swedish dominion at the end of the seventeenth century led only to the cruel extermination of a large number of women and children for the edification of the entire population. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Swedish empire had already conquered half of the entire continental Europe, including the Russian Ingermanland and Karelia — the former territories of the ancient Russian principality of Novgorod (the current Leningrad Region). At the beginning of the XVIII century, Charles concluded a military alliance with the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) - a worthy power for him on the scale of aggressive cruelty. During the campaigns, the Turkish army, as a rule, slaughtered (in the literal sense of the word) almost the entire population of the occupied territory, including children and the elderly, and led young women to be sold into sexual slavery.

What would have happened with all of Europe if Russia had not stopped Charles as a result of the Northern War of 1700-1721 and Turkey as a result of several liberation wars in the second half of the XVIII century?


The event, which entered the history of the country under the name "Persian campaign", occurred in order to protect Armenians and Georgians from the constant violence of Persia and the Ottoman Empire.

In addition, from the territory of Dagestan, periodic raids were made in Russian villages, and Russian merchants were subjected to looting. The reason for the beginning of the military campaign was the uprising of the rebels in the maritime provinces of Persia. Peter I announced to the Shah of Persia that the rebels were making forays into the territory of the Russian Empire and robbing merchants and that Russian troops would be introduced into the territory of Northern Azerbaijan and Dagestan to assist the shah in pacifying the inhabitants of the rebellious provinces. The campaign fulfilled the tasks set - the raids stopped, the Armenians and Georgians were not exterminated, and the Russian merchants opened the Caspian way of trade.

Following the results of the first Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774, won mainly due to the leadership talents of Suvorov, Potemkin and Ushakov, the Kuchuk-Kaynardzhi peace treaty was signed. Here are its conditions: The Crimean Khanate was declared independent, but in fact passed under the control of the Russian crown and stopped the raids on southern Russian lands. For Russia recognized the right to protect the Balkan and Caucasian Christians who are in Turkish citizenship (which all the same nobility was among the then politicians). In addition, the St. George Treaty was signed in 1783, according to which the kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti (eastern Georgia), exhausted by the continuous raids of Turkish and Persian troops, goes under the patronage of Russia. But the Turks did not seem enough. After 13 years, having accumulated military resources, the Ottoman Empire once again moved troops into Russia. The cause of the 1787-1792 war was Turkey’s desire to reclaim the Crimea and destroy the unfavorable conditions of the Kucuk-Kaynardzhi world. After Suvorov and his army, defending the fatherland from invasion, showed the Turks where the crayfish spend the winter, in 1791, peace was concluded in Iasi, according to which Turkey confirmed the conditions of the Kucuk-Kaynardzhsky world, gave way to Crimea, Taman, Ochakov and the left bank of the Dniester.


The most effective, low-cost, and effortless foreign success of Russia can be called participation in sections of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Poland). In fact, by that time the sovereign political entity Rzeczpospolita de facto no longer existed. This Polish-Lithuanian empire was torn apart by internal political conflicts, which were accompanied by fierce feuds between various political forces and semi-legal principalities. And the Orthodox Russian-speaking population (Belarusians and Ukrainians) did not have any civil rights and was subjected to humiliation. Even the taxes they paid more than the rest. As a result, the Belarusian and Ukrainian territories, which were part of the ancient Russian state and whose population was subjected to persecution and oppression by the Polish gentry, were annexed to Russia. Thus, historical justice was restored in the west of our country.

Although we took too much back then. In accordance with the convention on the first section, in addition to the territories of modern Belorus historically due to us (before Dvina, Druti and Dnieper, including the districts of Vitebsk, Polotsk and Mstislavl), whose population needed protection from aggressive Catholics, Russia seized part of the Baltic states (Livonia, Zadvinsky duchy ). 23 January 1793 Prussia and Russia signed a convention on the second division of Poland, as a result of which Russia received Belarusian lands to the Dinaburg – Pinsk – Zbruch line, the eastern part of Polesye, the Ukrainian regions of Podolia and Volyn. According to the results of the third section, not only Belarusian and Ukrainian, but also Lithuanian lands east of the Bug and the Nemirov – Grodno lines went to Russia again. But in this case, the annexation of the territories of the ethnically non-Slavic population is excusable, given that the accession was not accompanied by any violence, and already in the Russian Empire, the population of these territories was not subjected to oppression. Prince Repnin, the commander of the Russian troops, by the way, first demanded religious freedom for Protestants and Orthodox, and in 1768, non-Catholics were equal in rights with Catholics.

The indigenous Polish lands inhabited by ethnic Poles were divided between Prussia and Austria. Prussia generally used its participation in the section in a completely different way than Russia. By capturing north-western Poland, it took control of 80% of the foreign trade turnover of this country. Through the introduction of huge customs duties that stifle the economy of a captured country, it hastened its inevitable collapse.

In general, despite certain “distortions” with the receipt of “foreign” Lithuanian lands and secondary military actions (for example, suppression of the Kosciuszko uprising),

Russian participation in the divisions of Poland, in contrast to Prussia and Austria, pursued the justifiable goal of protecting their oppressed compatriots and returning the original Russian lands to Russia.

I am glad that all three sections from the Russian side took place almost bloodless (relative to those times). Therefore, we will not consider it as a gross mistake, but it’s still worth bearing in mind the future - the Lithuanians and Poles still have not forgotten such national humiliation.


During the reign of Catherine II, the Russian diplomatic concept of justice acquired a global scale and was extended, in particular, to North America. In 1780, Catherine II distributed to the European governments a Declaration of Armed Neutrality.

Thus, Russia was the first power, which decided in practice to introduce into the international practice new fair principles of the law of the sea. The declaration proclaimed the following basic principles: 1. Freedom to trade in neutral states with ports of warring states and neutral coastal trade; 2. Free transportation on neutral vessels of any cargo, with the exception of military contraband, that is weapons and equipment; 3. The declaration of an invalid blockade where it exists only on paper and is not provided with cash by the naval forces; 4. Neutral vessels should not be detained at sea and searched by the British fleet without sufficient grounds, and in the case of unfair seizures, owners of ships and cargo must be paid a premium. Note that it was these principles that were the basis of all international law of the sea, which exists to this day.

Catherine offered these basic principles to neutral states to defend the seas with the forces of their fleets and proclaimed the creation of the League of Armed Neutrality. Sweden, Denmark and Holland joined this neutral league. Thus, Russia has played a large role in the process of the birth of the United States. Diplomacy historian Bemis writes that "although the United States was not able to join the League of Armed Neutrality to secure recognition of its independence, North America’s armed neutrality itself was a powerful tool in isolating Britain from the maritime and trade nations of the world."

Taking into account the brilliant military victories of Suvorov and Ushakov that thundered all over Europe, and also bearing in mind Russia's second largest military-industrial potential in the world, many European monarchs hurried to listen to the Russian empress’s opinion, and the British did not dare to go to an open military conflict with St. Petersburg and did not conduct a total blockade of their American colonies. Thanks largely to this, they appeared on the US world map.


In the 18th century, the Russian Empire made tremendous efforts to protect its sovereignty, population, and ensure equal treatment of itself by the states surrounding it.

As a result of the defensive and liberation wars, it continued to expand naturally and gain access to new trade routes, while restoring historical justice in Europe, then in Asia.

At the cost of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers, Europe was freed from the cruel tyrant, and in the south Russia liberated the peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia from the Turkish and Persian yoke. At the same time, the empire showed a strong political will and an iron sequence in its striving to protect the neighboring Christian peoples oppressed by Islamic shahs, as well as ethnic Slavs, no matter what country they are in (for example, Belarusians and Ukrainians in Poland and Lithuania or the Ottoman Ottomans) . The country voluntarily abandoned its colonies in America and protected the American people from the colonial aggression of England, creating the conditions for the birth of the United States. Thus, the influence of its foreign policy concept, it extended to other continents. However, for the sake of justice, it is worth noting the fact of “overreaching the stick” - despite the justified goals of the divisions of the Commonwealth, some actions of the Russian troops in Poland were clearly an excessive manifestation of force. These facts include the suppression of the Polish national uprising Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
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  1. Pit
    Pit 21 May 2013 06: 28 New
    The whole world should pray for Russia for the possibility of its existence,
    especially lice and Jews, and they dogs sleep and see our doom. AND
    the question is, why was this justice in relation to the jackals?
  2. ABV
    ABV 21 May 2013 08: 02 New
    Russia, in general, is a great country! it is precisely because of our exceptional geopolitical and historical essence that the Anglo-Saxon elites cannot sleep peacefully and cannot eat ... and we, contrary to all intrigues, will withstand and become the world hegemon! IMHO.
    1. Pit
      Pit 21 May 2013 09: 09 New
      Quote: ABV
      and become the world hegemon! IMHO

      Do we need it? We don’t know how, we arrived, bombed,
      resources are drained and driven into credit bondage. We are quiet without them
      we will collect blood, and then we will also feed. And they in turn
      they’ll be in coves that we don’t feed, we don’t eat tasty, and indeed we
      invaders. We know, swam.
      Do you want a repetition?
  3. Trapperxnumx
    Trapperxnumx 21 May 2013 10: 49 New
    The article is certainly good. But I don’t agree with the conclusions about Kosciuszko. Considering how that uprising developed, they were treated, one might say, even more than humanely.
  4. Captain45
    Captain45 21 May 2013 13: 02 New
    I didn’t understand a little about this moment- "The Russian Tsar made a responsible decision in response to the request of the Kabardian princes and accepted Kabarda as a part of the country. Although, when in the 1571 and then in the 1574 (after the flight of Anjou), the Polish Sejm decided to make "he was the king of Poland, he refused, because this required a change of faith. Because this, in turn, would lead to riots and bloodshed both in Russia and in Poland itself." Kabarda, and then immediately about the Duke of Anjou Philip. The Poles themselves invited him to the Polish throne, but he did not change his faith as he was a Catholic, as did the Poles. So the author messed up something here. Yes, and he pulled back from the Polish throne to France, since his dad Henry died and Philip had a hope to take the throne of France, but did not succeed, his brother Karl 1X became king.
    1. OneMoreDay
      OneMoreDay 21 May 2013 13: 05 New
      This is all under Ivan, the author writes, do not extend the context of brackets to the whole sentence
      1. Captain45
        Captain45 21 May 2013 13: 28 New
        ATP, understood by a second reading.
  5. OneMoreDay
    OneMoreDay 21 May 2013 13: 03 New
    I would also recommend reading about this time at under the tag of educational program "Ivanov Years", "Volkolovye", "Northern Centenary"