But it cannot be said that there was no player in the political arena who would have received a huge gain from this confrontation. All dividends from this struggle went to England. Russia shackled the main geopolitical enemy of England at that time - France. Paris could not solve the problems of unification of Western Europe and gradually lost its independence in foreign policy, “playing” for the British. The results for France were sad - the futile Eastern (Crimean) campaign, the hardest losses in the First World War, the inglorious collapse in the Second World War and the gradual degradation of modern times. London beat Paris in the hard struggle of the end of the XVIII - beginning of the XIX centuries. And the main trump card of the British in this struggle was Russia. Russian soldiers dotted the fields of Western Europe with their bones and undermined the potential of France.
Unfortunately, the Russian rulers, and especially Alexander I, were not up to par. They dragged Russia into someone else's game. Russia's struggle with France did not meet Russian national interests. Russia was advantageous confrontation on the line: France - England and France - Austria, Prussia. This struggle depleted Western Europe - at that time, the main geopolitical opponent of Russia, gave time to St. Petersburg to focus on internal development, the development of already existing vast territories (in order to include new regions in the South and Far East). In reality, the Russians became cannon fodder in England.
The revolution in France and the grand eastern plans of Catherine II
In 1789, a revolution took place in France. It led to the largest breaking and reorganization of the socio-political system of France. The old order was almost completely broken, France from the monarchy became a republic. Later, the monarchy was restored more than once, but in general, the social and political system of the French state underwent a strong transformation. The long process of restructuring Europe has entered a new stage.
France was far away, and the internal events in this state practically did not touch Russia in any way. It was possible to trade both with a monarchy, and with republic. However, the Russian Empress Catherine II reacted to this event extremely painfully. She was extremely indignant at the events in France. Her angry words quickly spread throughout Europe. She called the National Assembly deputies intriguing, unworthy of this title "canals", which can be compared with the rebel Pugachev. Moreover, the Russian empress called for intervention, acting as one of the initiators of the anti-French coalition: “The weakening of the monarchist power in France endangers all other monarchies. For my part, I am ready to resist by all means. It's time to act and take up arms. ” Catherine even began funding the mercenary army, which was created by French immigrants and counter-revolutionary nobility.
On the other hand, Ekaterina Alekseevna is obviously cunning. She did not think much of Louis XVI: "He's drunk every night, and he is ruled over by anyone who wants it." In addition, the Russian empress understood the benefits of the intervention of Vienna and Berlin in the affairs of France. 4 December 1791, the empress told her secretary Khrapovitsky: “I break my head to move the Viennese and Berlin courts into French affairs ... to bring them into business in order to have free hands myself. I have a lot of unfinished enterprises, and I need these yards to be occupied and not interfere with me ”. Petersburg was beneficial to distract Vienna and Berlin from Polish affairs. Austria needed to be diverted from the Balkan Peninsula and the future of the Ottoman Empire. Catherine had extensive plans for the future of the Ottoman territories. In particular, it was supposed to completely expel the Ottomans from Europe, to recreate the Byzantine Empire - under the protectorate of Russia.
In the summer of 1792, Austro-Prussian troops invaded France. The period of "revolutionary wars" began. Among the enemies of France were not only Austria and Prussia, but also England, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, and the Netherlands. All the attention of Western Europe was riveted on this war. And at this time, Russia was preparing for a decisive throw on Constantinople. The best forces of the army and fleet pulled together not to the west for a campaign in France, but to the south. In 1793, 145 officers and 2 thousand sailors were transferred from the Baltic Fleet to the Black Sea. At the shipyards of Kherson and Nikolaev, 50 gunboats and 72 rowing vessels of various classes were laid (they were needed for transporting troops and various cargoes). By navigation in 1793, the Black Sea Fleet had 19 ships, 6 frigates, 105 gunboats and 25 sea boats of the Black Sea Cossacks. The decree on the preparation of the Black Sea Fleet said: “The walls can embrace the Tsarsgradsky flame” (in the Chesmensky battle of 1770, the Russian fleet almost completely destroyed or captured the ships of the Ottoman fleet). At the beginning of 1793, a new commander-in-chief, Alexander Suvorov, arrived in Kherson. In the St. Petersburg mint, master T. Ivanov secretly minted medals, on the one side of which the empress was depicted, on the other a flaming Constantinople, a falling minaret with a crescent moon and a radiant cross in the clouds.
The operation to seize Constantinople and the straits failed due to the affairs of the Second Section of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1793), and then the Polish uprising of the 1794 of the year and the Third Section of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1795). Catherine was forced to postpone the eastern plans, Suvorov was sent to fight the Poles. However, Ekaterina Alekseevna did not forget about her plans. In 1796, the Persian campaign began (Punishing non-peaceful Persia - 1796 campaign of the year). The troops under the command of Valerian Zubov captured Derbent, Baku, and successfully moved deep into Persia. The road to South Azerbaijan and Tehran was open. Cossacks Platov carried out long-range reconnaissance. In general, the Persian campaign was won. The Persians surrendered one territory after another, resistance was minimal. In the long term, the possibility of Russian access to the Indian Ocean opened up. Another operation was planned for 1797 year: Zubov was to move troops to Constantinople through Anatolia. At the same time, the Russian troops under the command of Suvorov were to make a shot at Tsargrad through the Balkans, and the Black Sea Fleet, under the command of Ushakov, to conduct the Bosporus landing operation. These plans did not come true because of the death of the Empress.
At the time of Catherine began to develop a plan for a campaign in India. In 1791, the French émigré Marquis de Saint-Genis proposed to the Russian empress a plan for a campaign to India through Bukhara and Kabul. The place of concentration of Russian troops was to be Orenburg. Catherine Alekseevna was supposed to publish a manifesto on the restoration of the Mughal Empire. The plan was not implemented, but it aroused great interest among the Empress.
At the same time, St. Petersburg undertook intensified maneuvers on the misinformation of European powers. Catherine publicly knocked together a coalition to fight the French Jacobins, organized public hysteria about the execution of French monarchs. To divert England in February 1795, in St. Petersburg, the allied defensive Russian-English agreement on mutual assistance in case of war with an unnamed enemy was signed. According to him, St. Petersburg pledged to expose for England in the event of a war with one of the European powers 12-thousand. corps (10 thousand infantry and 2 thousand cavalry). England promised annual monetary assistance in 0,5 million rubles and food and clothing maintenance of Russian troops. Whether Catherine was going to fulfill this contract is unknown, but in any case the corps of 12 thousand soldiers for the Russian Empire then had little significance. In the wars against Turkey, much more powerful military units were operating. In addition, at the beginning of 1795 navigation, Ekaterina sent a squadron of Vice Admiral Khanykov to the North Sea, consisting of 12 battleships and 8 frigates. This squadron was supposed to protect merchant ships and block the coast of Holland. In 1796, part of the ships of the squadron under the command of Khanykov returned to the Baltic, the best ships under command of Rear Admiral Makarov remained off the coast of England. Russian squad took part in the suppression of the uprising of British sailors. For this, the British king George III Makarov was awarded a gold sword, and the emperor Paul - the Order of St.. Anna 1 degree.
Politics of Pavel Petrovich
At the end of 1795, a triple alliance against France was concluded between Russia, England and Austria, and an expeditionary corps was being prepared in Russia. However, the death of Catherine radically changed the policy of Russia. Emperor Paul I did not send an expeditionary corps to help Austria, and declared to his allies that Russia was exhausted by previous wars. Russia left the anti-French coalition. Initially, Emperor Paul wanted to pursue a peaceful policy and limit French military successes through diplomatic measures. Pavel Petrovich stopped the preparation of the Bosphorus operation, withdrew the Zubov Expeditionary Corps from Persia, and brought Makarov’s squadron from the Mediterranean. Pavel I critically evaluated the principles of Catherine in foreign policy, and decided to revise them radically.
In the first months of his reign, the new emperor carefully watched the events in Europe, trying not to interfere in them. In 1796-1797 there has been a serious success of France. The talented French general Napoleon Bonaparte led a brilliant Italian campaign. Austrian armies one after another were defeated and the 17 of October in Campo Formio was concluded peace of France with Austria, who ended the War of the First Coalition. France emerged victorious, although England continued to fight. Austria refused the Netherlands, recognized the left bank of the Rhine as the frontier of France. France went to the Ionian Islands. The Vizals of France were the Tsizalpinsky Republic and the Ligurian Republic. Austria received as compensation the city of Venice and the Venetian lands on the left bank of the Adige River, as well as the Venetian possessions in Istria and Dalmatia.
Paul reacted calmly to this French victory. When the Austrian Ambassador Kobenzel made it clear that the truce of Austria and France could still be broken if Petersburg provided military assistance to Vienna. The Russian emperor shrugged and said: “You have not suffered enough defeats yet?” However, around this time around the Russian emperor they began to twist the intrigue that was supposed to make Russia an enemy of France. A representative of the French émigrés arrived to Pavel and asked for asylum, appealing to the mercy of the Russian sovereign. Under the terms of the world, Austria could no longer keep on its territory French emigre troops, commanded by Prince Louis-Joseph de Bourbon-Conde. “Russian Don Quixote”, as Napoleon called Pavel, undoubtedly invited the French to Russia. French troops were stationed in Podolia and Volyn. Prince Louis Conde, his son and grandson were warmly received in Petersburg. The contender for the French crown Count Provence (Louis XVIII) settled in Mitau and received a pension in 200 thousand rubles.
At the same time, a conspiracy of the Poles in Vilna was fabricated, allegedly supported by the French. There was no serious conspiracy, but it caused Paul to be very annoyed. A major role in drawing Russia into the war with France was also played by the Knights of Malta. Pavel, sharing the chivalrous ideals of honor and glory, in 1797, declared himself the protector of the most ancient order of Malta (continued the tradition of the Hospitallers). In 1798, Napoleon captured Malta on his way to Egypt. Pavel Petrovich gave the Knights refuge in St. Petersburg and December 16. 1798 was elected Grand Master of the Order of Malta (Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem). In Russia, they established the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Maltese Cross), which during the reign of Paul was considered the highest distinction awarded for civil and military merit. Paul issued a decree accepting the island of Malta under the protection of the Russian Empire. The island of Malta was supposed to be the province of Russia. It was supposed to create a naval base to ensure the interests of Russia in the Mediterranean and southern Europe.
Thus, various subjective factors forced Pavel Petrovich to start a war with France. Malta, which was not Russian territory since ancient times, could not be called land, for which it was worth starting a bloody war with the French. Russia could easily join much larger territories in the south and east, and without war and special efforts.
War with france
In August, the Russian squadron, under the command of Ushakov — the 1798 of the battleships, the 6 frigates and other ships — moved to the Bosphorus. In the autumn of 7, the Russian ships passed through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, entered the Mediterranean Sea, and then the Adriatic, where, in cooperation with the Turkish fleet, began an operation to seize the Ionian Islands. The Russian emperor decided not to limit himself to sending the Russian squadron to the Mediterranean and December 1798 18, St. Petersburg concluded a preliminary agreement with London on the restoration of the union. Russia pledged to send 1798-thousand to Europe for military operations. the army, and England, for its part, agreed to provide a one-time cash subsidy in 45 thousand pounds sterling and pay monthly 225 thousand pounds sterling. Interestingly, the Europeans demanded from Russia not only soldiers, but also a commander - Suvorov. At the end of 75, the ambassadors of England and Austria almost ultimatum demanded the appointment of Alexander Suvorov as commander of the Russian troops, which would be directed against France.
In addition to sending a squadron of Ushakov to the Mediterranean, Russian ships were sent to the North Sea to help the British fleet. In April, 1798, Makarov received an order with 5 battleships to go to the connection with the British. In June, the squadron was in Copenhagen, in July it merged with the English squadron. Then the Makarov squadron was strengthened, bringing its composition to the 18 battleships, 10 frigates. A squadron of Chichagov from the Baltic and a detachment of Baratynsky from Arkhangelsk arrived. Both compounds experienced serious difficulties during the transition, almost all ships received more or less serious damage. The Russian ships returned home by September 1800.
By order of the Russian emperor, 17,5-thousand was formed. corps under the command of General Hermann von Fersen for landing in Holland. Together with the English troops, he had to repel the conquered Holland from the French and restore the former power of the Princes of Orange there. The Dutch expedition 1799 of the year ended in complete failure. Local conditions contributed to the defensive side, the French and the Dutch supporting them had many good defensive positions, the terrain was very difficult for offensive actions. Autumn bad weather further worsened the situation, flooding the lowlands and turning them into swamps. The Russian expeditionary corps was not a single whole - not only divisions and brigades were formed just before landing on ships, but even separate reunion-grenadier battalions of soldiers from people of different parts. The commanders did not know their subordinates. There were no carriers, horses were not brought, cavalrymen remained dismounted, great difficulties were with the transportation of guns. Big problems were with the supply of troops. During the battle, Russian and British troops acted separately, a simultaneous strike did not work. As a result, the battle of Bergen ended with the defeat of the Russians and the British, the generals Herman and Stallions were captured. The remaining forces, with the permission of the French General Brune, were evacuated. Of the failed expedition, only England gained the favor, the British were able to capture the Dutch fleet.
The actions of the squadron of Ushakov on the Adriatic and the army of Suvorov in Italy were much more successful. Russian sailors under the command of Ushakov, with the support of the Ottomans, occupied the Ionian islands of Kythira, Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Lefkada, and stormed the powerful fortress of Corfu. Then the Russian marines successfully operated in southern Italy. Suvorov defeated the French troops in Northern Italy, made an amazing Swiss campaign. The exploits were brilliant. Ushakov, Suvorov, Russian soldiers and sailors once again showed the world the amazing fighting qualities of a Russian man. However, from the point of view of the national interests of Russia, it was a waste of power. Russian fought for the interests of others. All benefits were received by London and Vienna.
The gap between Russia and former allies and the world with France
Gradually, Pavel Petrovich realized all the stupidity of the war he started against France. The Austrians and the British used Russians as cannon fodder, solving their national problems. By the fall of 1799, Vienna and London decided that the campaign had been won, and they hurried to deprive the Russian laurels of victory. This is the reason for the already unnecessary throw of A. Suvorov’s troops into Switzerland, although it would be wiser to leave them in Italy and begin preparations for a strike against France.
Interestingly, the successes of Suvorov in Italy in some respects saved Napoleon from admitting defeat. The British destroyed the French fleet in Aboukir and deprived the French army in Egypt of communication with the metropolis (Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign of Bonaparte). Egypt did not have an industry that could supply the French army with everything necessary, and the supply of reinforcements has now ceased. The army of Napoleon had quite a bit of time, then it was necessary to surrender to the British and the Turks. Napoleon awaited shameful capitulation. After the heavy defeats of the French troops in Italy, Napoleon was able to actually abandon the army in Egypt (on his own initiative, deserting), and return to France. The French people, tired of the theft and chatter of the ruling elite, the war, annoyed by defeat, fearing the invasion of Suvorov’s army, took Napoleon’s seizure of power with a bang.
It is difficult for Napoleon to deny the existence of strategic thinking, he immediately drew attention to the absurdity of the situation: Russia was at war with a country that does not have a common border with it and no matter of dispute in general, except for views on the form of government. As soon as he received the powers of the first consul, Napoleon set the rapprochement with Russia as the most important foreign policy task of the government. “We do not demand from the Prussian king neither army nor union; we ask him to provide only one service - to reconcile us with Russia, - wrote the great Frenchman in January 1800 of the year. The same thoughts came to Paul. On a report from 28 on January 1800, the Russian envoy in Berlin Krudner, who reported on a French probe through Berlin about a possible peace with Russia, the Russian emperor wrote: “As for rapprochement with France, I wouldn’t want anything better me, especially as a counterweight to Austria. "
5 September 1800, the French surrendered to the British in Malta. Petersburg immediately demanded that London consent to the landing of Russian troops in Malta. London was silent. In November, Pavel sequestrated British goods in Russian shops and stores, banned the sale of British goods in Russia, stopped debt payments to the British, appointed officials to eliminate debt settlements between Russian and English merchants. Diplomatic relations between the powers were interrupted. 4 — December 6 The 1800 of the year was formalized by a union treaty between Russia, Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark. With regard to England, the policy of armed neutrality was proclaimed, renewing the 1780 system of the year on a broader scale. The situation went to war between the northern powers and England. The British government allowed its ships to seize ships belonging to the hostile coalition states. In response to these actions, the Danes occupied Hamburg, and the Prussians occupied Hannover. The Allies imposed an embargo on the export of goods to England (even before the blockade of Napoleon), and especially grain, in the hope that the lack of bread would make England more friendly. Many ports in Western Europe were closed to English ships.
London tried to use provocation. The English ambassador to Florence visited the Russian envoy Mozenigo and said that England has no views of Corsica and that, in his opinion, "the conquest of Corsica would be of great importance to his imperial majesty." Thus, London offered Petersburg to replace Malta with Corsica. And given the fact that Corsica was the birthplace of Napoleon, the provocation took on an even more negative connotation. It is clear that Pavel Petrovich did not succumb to such crude provocation.
To be continued ...