160 years ago, 18 (30) March 1856, the Peace of Paris was signed, ending the Eastern (Crimean) War. Unsuccessful for Russia the course of the war led to the infringement of its rights and interests. The position of neutralizing the Black Sea, which forbade all Black Sea powers to have military fleets on the Black Sea, was of fundamental importance for Russia. Russia and Turkey could not create naval arsenals and fortresses on the coast. However, the Russian Empire was placed in an unequal position with the Ottoman, which retained its entire naval forces in the Marmara and the Mediterranean, and they could, if necessary, be transferred to the Black Sea.
At the same time, the Ottoman Empire and the then leading Western powers — Britain, France, Austria, and Sardinia — failed to realize broad plans to oust Russia from the Baltic states, Poland, the Black Sea region and the Caucasus, or to reject a number of territories. The heroic resistance of Sevastopol disrupted the interventionists' plans to turn Russia into a second-rate power.
The war was caused by the clash of interests of Russia and Turkey in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans, as well as the problem of the straits. The Ottoman Empire was a "sick man of Europe" and rapidly degraded. Russian emperor Nicholas I decided that the time had come to solve important issues for the development of Russian civilization and heightened the pressure on Istanbul. Tsar Nicholas correctly appreciated the state of Turkey - it was on the verge of collapse. However, he miscalculated in relation to European countries. The Russian sovereign hoped for the friendly neutrality of Prussia and Austria, the non-intervention of England and the cold neutrality of France, which alone would not risk supporting Turkey.
In turn, the Porta, relying on the support of England and France, counted on the successful conduct of hostilities in the Black Sea basin. After the victory, Istanbul hoped to regain some of its previously lost positions in the Black Sea basin and the Caucasus. England and France wanted to use Turkey as a battering ram in the war with Russia. To this end, the ruling circles of Western European countries provided enhanced military assistance to the Ottoman Empire: long before the war, it was awash with English, French, and Austrian military advisers who trained Turkish troops, built fortifications, and led the development of military plans. Under the guidance of foreign experts, the construction of the Ottoman military was carried out fleet. The Turkish fleet was replenished with ships built in Marseille, Livorno and Venice. Almost all of the artillery of the Turkish fleet was English-made, the English advisers and instructors were at the headquarters and commanders of the Turkish troops and naval formations.
England had far-reaching strategic goals. In fact, it was a rehearsal of world war. They wanted to knock out Russia from Finland, the Baltic states, the Danube principalities, the Crimea and the Caucasus. From the Russian lands they planned to recreate the Kingdom of Poland. To create Cherkessia in the North Caucasus, having given it under the protectorate of Turkey. Thus, Russia was planning to deprive the conquests of several centuries, throwing it away from the Baltic and the Black Sea inland. In addition, Britain wanted to put Russia in a dependent position in the economic sphere: the British wanted to force Russia to abandon the protectionist policies pursued by Nicholas I and introduce a regime favorable for the import of British goods.
France was not against the dismemberment of Russia, but solved mainly the problems of domestic policy. The adventurous policy of Napoleon III worsened the position of France and caused an explosion of discontent. It was necessary to divert society "small victorious war" away from the borders of France. Cover the internal crisis external victories. In addition, French capital had its own interests in the Ottoman Empire and did not want the efforts of Russia's positions in the Middle East.
Austria owed Russia, which saved her from the Hungarian uprising, and Emperor Nicholas counted on the support of the Austrians. However, his shirt was closer to the body. The Austrians were very afraid of Russia's gain in the Balkans, where the Russian-related Slavic and Christian peoples lived. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the fall of its power in the Balkan Peninsula, Russia could take a dominant position in the region. Moreover, if desired, Russia could become the head of the Slavic Union. Pan-Slavic sentiments were then common in the Balkans. This led to the fact that Austria was in a difficult position, from all sides potential adversaries: the Italians sought to restore the unity of Italy, that is, to oust Austria from the peninsula; France was an old enemy and could only be a tactical ally, the French supported the Italians to take them under their wing; Prussia claimed leadership in Germany, challenging Austria; Russia could crush the Balkans; Slavic states of the Balkans could have headed for cutting off Slavic territories from Austria.
As a result, Austria took a tough stance against Russia, effectively predetermining the defeat of the Russian Empire in the war. After it became clear that Austria was in a hostile position, St. Petersburg had to withdraw its troops from the Danube principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) and abandon the idea of conducting military operations in the Danube theater, although a decisive victory on it led to the defeat and surrender of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, the entire war Russia kept on the border with Austria and in general in the western strategic direction its main and best forces, which all the war just stood in case of war with Austria and Prussia. As a result, the Russian Crimean army did not have the strength and ability to throw the enemy into the sea.
After Turkey declared Russia the 4 (16) war on October 1853, active operations were conducted on land and at sea. On the Danube front, Russian troops unsuccessfully fought at Oltenita 23 in October (November 4), but repulsed the Turks in December 25 1853 (January 6 1854) at Chetat. In the Caucasus in the battle of Akhaltsikh 14 (26) November 1853. The 7 thousandth garrison of General I. M. Andronikov threw off the 15 thousandth army of Ali Pasha, November 19 (1 December) under Bashkadyklar 10 thousandth general V.O. Bebutov defeated the 36-thousandth army of Ahmet Pasha.
Successfully were fighting at sea. The Ottoman Empire was especially hard hit in the Battle of Sinop, where 18 (30) November 1853 squadron under the command of Vice Admiral P. S. Nakhimov from 8 ships destroyed the Turkish squadron Osman Pasha from 16 ships (Sinop; H. 2).
Thus, Russia was pulling up over Turkey. This led to the fact that the war intervened in England and France. December 23 1853 (January 4 1854) The Anglo-French fleet entered the Black Sea. 9 (21) February Russia declared war on Britain and France. 10 (22) April, the Anglo-French squadron bombarded Odessa. In June-July, Anglo-French troops landed in Varna, and the superior forces of the Anglo-French-Turkish fleet blocked the Russian fleet in Sevastopol.
In late August, the combined fleet of England and France, consisting of 89 warships and 300 transports, approached Evpatoria. 1 (13) September, the Allies freely began the landing of the expeditionary army (The invasion of the Crimea). The commander-in-chief of the Russian troops in the Crimea, Prince A. S. Menshikov, decided to give battle to the enemy army at a previously chosen position on the Alma River - on the way from Yevpatoria to Sevastopol. The 8 (20) of September was a battle that the Russians lost (Alma; H. 2). Having suffered a defeat on the Alma, Menshikov with the army went first to Sevastopol, but then, fearing that the enemy would cut him off from the central regions of Russia, and also with the aim of freedom of maneuver and the possibility to threaten the enemy’s flank and rear, to the Bakhchisarai.
By the evening of 12 (24) September, the allied army approached the r. Belbek and from here the next day began the flank movement to the south side of the city. On the morning of September 14 (26), the French took up positions on the Fedyukhiny heights, and the British occupied Balaclava. The Allied fleet entered Balaklava harbor. 18 (30) September, the Anglo-French-Turkish forces reached the approaches to Sevastopol from the south.
13 (25) September 1854 in Sevastopol was declared a state of siege (The beginning of the heroic defense of Sevastopol). The defense of the city was led by Vice-Admiral V. A. Kornilov, officially considered the chief of defense staff. His closest assistants were the squadron commander, Vice Admiral Nakhimov, appointed head of the South side, and Rear Admiral V. I. Istomin (head of defense of Malakhov Kurgan). The general management of engineering work was carried out by Colonel E. E. Totleben. They quickly, using all available resources, including the capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet, prepared the city for defense.
5 (17) October 1854. The first bombardment of the fortress began (The first bombing of Sevastopol). The enemy opened fire on all defensive structures made of heavy guns from 126, and by noon they were joined by 1340 ship guns. He hoped to destroy the land fortifications of the fortress and storm it by powerful bombardment from the sea and land. Sevastopol responded with powerful artillery fire from 250 guns. At night, the garrison restored the damaged fortifications, by the morning they were ready to repel the new attacks of the enemy. The first attempt of the enemy to seize Sevastopol failed. The plan of the Anglo-French command was thwarted by the heroic defense of the Russian troops.
The stubborn resistance of the garrison forced the English commander Raglan and the French general Canrobert to postpone the assault and proceed to a slow siege. The enemy was preparing for a new assault on Sevastopol, moving closer to the line of its fortifications. After the battle won on the Black River 4 (16) in August 1855, the Allies began to actively prepare for the general assault on Sevastopol. The Anglo-French command carried out another bombardment of the city from 800 guns, which was conducted from 5 (17) to 8 (20) in August. The next, sixth, most powerful, bombardment of Sevastopol from 807 guns, including 300 mortars, was conducted from 24 to August 27 (5 - September 8). Malakhov Kurgan was subjected to especially heavy bombardment.
August 27 (September 8) the enemy troops launched the final assault on Sevastopol. The enemy sent the main blow to the 2 bastion and the Malakhov barrow. The French, after stubborn fighting, managed to seize Malakhov mound and the second bastion. At other points all attacks were repulsed. But with the loss of the Malakhov Kurgan and the 2 bastion, the line of defense, the defense of Sevastopol, lost its integrity. The commander of the Russian army, M. Gorchakov, decided to abandon his further struggle for the city and ordered the withdrawal of troops to the northern side. On August 27 (September 8), Russian forces, having blown up warehouses and fortifications on the South side, crossed to the North side and then joined the Menshikov army. Simultaneously with the crossing of the troops, the remaining ships of the Black Sea Fleet were flooded in the bay (Fall of Sevastopol).
As a result, 11-monthly defense of Sevastopol took the main place in the course of the Eastern (Crimean) war. Russian soldiers and sailors under the leadership of the legendary admirals in the fight against a numerically superior enemy defended Sevastopol, showing heroism, bravery and courage. They held down the main forces and attention of the enemy.
In other theaters, the enemy's actions were not crowned with success. In August 1854, the Anglo-French squadron appeared at Petropavlovsk-on-Kamchatka. Admiral Price expected to easily take this small Russian Far Eastern port, began bombing and landed troops. However, the captain of 1 rank Zavoyko and defenders of the city threw the enemy into the sea (Heroic defense of Petropavlovsk; H. 2). After the fruitless attacks of the Russian ports and coastal villages of the Anglo-French fleet had to leave the White Sea and the Baltic. In the Caucasus, Russian troops in November 1855 won a strategic victory, taking the fortress of Kars, which was then exchanged for Sevastopol.
Both sides were exhausted and could not continue fighting. However, the threat of Austria joining the war on the side of Britain, France and Turkey made Petersburg go for peace. The decision to go to peace negotiations was made at a meeting in the Winter Palace 3 (15) in January 1856, at which the ultimatum presented to Russia by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph was discussed for the second time.
13 (25) February 1856 began the Paris Congress. The French Foreign Minister, Count A. Valevsky, presided at the meetings, the second representative was the French Ambassador to Turkey de Burquin. Russia was represented by the first authorized Earl A.F. Orlov and the second by F.I. Brunnov, England by Lord Clarendon and Cowley, Austria by Foreign Minister Buol and Gübner, the Sardinian kingdom by Cavour and Villamarin. Turkey was represented by the Grand Vizier Aali-Pasha and the Turkish Ambassador to Paris, Cemil Bey, and Prussia by O. Manteifel, M. Harzfeldt.
England and Austria put a number of difficult conditions: the British sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea basin, to undermine its position in the Caucasus, and in the Baltic States, insisted on demilitarizing the Aland Islands; The Austrians demanded that all of Bessarabia be alienated from Russia and counted on joining the Danube principalities to their possessions. However, the separate position of France, which went into independent negotiations with Russia, undermined the possibilities of Britain and Austria. As a result, the Austrians left the congress without receiving their thirty pieces of silver for betraying Russia. But nobody asked Turkey, the Ottomans were forced to agree with the allies in everything.
18 (30) March peace agreement was signed. According to its terms:
- Russia returned to Turkey Kars and other territories occupied by Russian troops. France, England, Sardinia and Turkey returned to Russia: Sevastopol, Balaclava, Kamysh, Evpatoria, Kerch-Enikale, Kinburn and other places occupied by the Allied forces.
“Both sides returned prisoners of war and forgave“ the citizens who were found guilty of any complicity with the enemy during the continuation of hostilities. The general forgiveness extended "to those subjects of each of the warring powers, which during the war remained in the service of another of the warring powers."
- Russia, Austria, France, England. Prussia and Sardinia pledged to "respect the independence and integrity of the Ottoman empire, provide for the aggregate guarantee their exact observance of this obligation and, as a result, will honor any violation of this action with a question concerning common rights and benefits." Turkey promised to improve the position of the Christian population of the empire.
- The Black Sea was declared neutral (that is, open to commercial and closed to military courts in peacetime), with the prohibition of Russia and Turkey to have military fleets and arsenals there.
- Navigation on the Danube was declared free, for which the Russian borders were moved away from the river. Part of the Russian Bessarabia with the mouth of the Danube was attached to Moldova.
- Russia was deprived of Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhsky world 1774, the protectorate over Moldova and Wallachia and Russia's exclusive patronage over the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire.
- Serbia remained “under the supreme power of the Brilliant Porte”, but retained its independent and national administration and complete freedom of religion, law and trade. Turkey retained the right to have its own garrisons in Serbia.
- Russia pledged not to build fortifications on the Aland Islands.
The treaty on the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits was attached to the treatise, confirming their closure to foreign warships in peacetime. The Paris Peace Treaty of 1856 seriously changed the political situation in Europe, destroying the European Vienna system created after the defeat of Napoleon’s empire. The Treaty of Paris became the basis of European diplomacy until the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 — 1871.
The Russian Empire achieved the abolition of the ban to keep the navy in the Black Sea at the London Convention 1871, taking advantage of the Franco-Prussian war 1870-1871. Russia was able to return part of the lost territories in the 1878 year according to the Berlin Treaty, signed within the framework of the Berlin Congress of the 1877 — 1878 Russian-Turkish War.
Thus, the West managed to prevent the strengthening of Russia in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Asia Minor and for some time to deprive it of the Black Sea Fleet. However, the heroic resistance of Russian soldiers and sailors in Sevastopol disrupted large-scale geopolitical and strategic plans to weaken the Russian empire. The West had to prepare new “rams” - Japan and Germany, in order to crush the Russian Empire. Therefore, the Eastern War can be considered as one of the rehearsals of the future world war.