The confrontation with Turkey began almost from the moment of the emergence of Russian statehood. Only the last half century passed bloodlessly, when both sides tried to demonstrate that they could work together mutually. But as recent events have shown, politics and hostility accumulated over the centuries, coupled with momentary conjuncture, are stronger than the economy.
Russian-Turkish relations are long-standing, have more than one century, but too often have been complicated by military conflicts. For three and a half centuries - I take time from 1568 to 1918 a year - Russia fought with Turkey about once every 25 years, that is, virtually continuously, given the time taken to prepare for armed clashes. According to other estimates of historians who determine the duration of the Russian-Turkish wars in the 241 year, peaceful intervals were even less, only 19 years.
Naturally, the question arises: what is the reason for such a long, stubborn and bloody mutual struggle? It is due primarily to geopolitical interests on the part of the Russian Slavs, and then to the Great Russians - the desire for the Black Sea. The desire to prevail in this region, strategically important for the state, has been manifested among our ancestors since very distant times. It is no accident that in ancient times the Black Sea was called Russian. Also known historical facts testifying to the presence of Russian (eastern) Slavs in the Black Sea region. We know, for example, that our First Teacher, St. Cyril (827–869), being in the Crimea, in Chersonesos, saw the Gospel written by the Russians “there,” in it. There is another very convincing evidence - the tribes of the Old Russian Slavs, such as the streets and Tiverts, lived in the south of Eastern Europe, between the Dnieper and the Dniester, their settlements extended to the Black Sea - "oli to the sea", as Nestor the chronicler, creator of the wonderful Tale put it temporary years. We must not forget about the path from the "Varangians to the Greeks", part of which ran through the Black Sea. Along this path there was a bright East Slavic civilization (Kievan Rus), which needed trade, cultural and religious communication with Byzantium.
Subsequently, the Slavs were shifted from the southern borders under the onslaught of steppe people - Pechenegs, Polovtsy and especially the Mongols. There was an ebb of the Russian population, fleeing from the fierce rage of the nomads, to the north. The geopolitical situation in the abandoned lands has changed. But with the weakening of the Tatar-Mongol domination and as a result of the collapse of the Golden Horde, the possibility of a return movement of Russians to the south, towards the shores of the Black and Caspian Seas, appeared. However, this was hampered by fragments of the Horde - the Crimean, Kazan and Astrakhan khanates. Turks also emerged here, defeating the Byzantine Empire and establishing their power in Constantinople. But Russia had close ties with Romei power. From there, the Russians took the most valuable thing - the Christian faith and, consequently, a whole layer of culture, which largely formed the Russian Orthodox people, who have individual traits that distinguish them from others, in particular, the ethnic groups of the West. That is why the victory of the Turks over the Romans (Greeks), Russian co-religionists, our ancestors was not at all a joy.
It did not take long to wait for Russia to feel the real danger from Porta.
Crusades of the Ottoman Ports
In 1475, the Turks subjugated the newly emerged Crimean Khanate, which significantly affected the relations of the Russian state with it. Before that, the Crimean Tatars and Russians lived relatively peacefully, one might say, in cooperation. Influenced by Ports, the Crimean khans began to show increasing aggressiveness towards Moscow. At first, the Turks took only sporadic participation in the raids of the Crimean Tatars on Russian lands, sending small military units to help them, for example, in 1541, 1556, 1558. The first major anti-Russian Turkish campaign itself took place in 1568 – 1569. The Turks came out to win the Astrakhan Khanate, just joined to Russia. This meant the creation of a springboard for further attacks on our southern frontiers. The matter, however, ended in complete failure and the shameful flight of the enemy. And yet it became the prologue of the subsequent numerous wars of Turkey with Russia, marching throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, at intervals noted above. In most cases, the Russians were victorious. Incidentally, there were also defeats that our ancestors had to endure. However, Russia in the Black Sea gradually gained momentum. The change finally took place.
In the XVII century, Russia was cut off from the Black Sea. The exit to it locked Azov. The Russian government, oriented geopolitically in a southerly direction, was faced with the need to end this situation. As a result of the campaigns of Peter I (1695 – 1696), Azov fell. True, due to the unsuccessful Prut campaign for us (1711), the fortress had to be returned. It was possible to get Azov again only after more than half a century, following the results of the war with the Turks 1768 – 1774.
The attempts of the Russians to seize the Crimea also remained fruitless - let us recall the unsuccessful campaigns of Vasily Golitsyn (1687, 1689) and Burkhard Minikh (1735 – 1739).
Turkey and the Crimean Khanate posed a serious threat to Russia until the reign of Catherine II. They were also greatly disturbed by other states of Eastern and Western Europe. That is why European politicians, including the Roman pontiff, since the times of Ivan the Terrible, sought rapprochement with Russia in the struggle against Turkish aggression. At the same time, they behaved dually, setting Porto and Crimea at the first opportunity at Russia, and sometimes tried to shift the burden of fighting them onto the shoulders of our ancestors.
Only in the time of Catherine II, Russia won a complete victory over the Crimean Khanate, and therefore, to a certain extent, over Turkey. Crimea, as you know, was annexed to Russia in 1783, and without military action. However, it was possible to take possession of the peninsula earlier - according to the results of the 1768 – 1774 campaign. Empress Catherine II spoke directly about this in her manifesto of April 19 of 1783. She noted that our victories in the previous war gave full grounds and an opportunity to annex Crimea to Russia, but this was not done from humane considerations, as well as for the sake of “good accord and friendship with the Ottoman Port”. At the same time, the Russian government hoped that the liberation of the peninsula from Turkish dependence would bring peace, peace and tranquility here, but this, alas, did not happen. The Crimean Khan, dancing to the tune of the Turkish Sultan, started to get old. That is why, and also taking into account the fact that the pacification of the Crimean Tatars cost Russia considerable human losses and financial expenses (12 million rubles is the greatest money at that time), it annexed the Crimea. But the national customs, the culture of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the peninsula, the unimpeded departure of religious cults were preserved, the mosques were not affected. It should be noted that of the Western countries only France acted with open protest against the annexation of the Crimea to Russia, thereby demonstrating interest in maintaining tension in Russian-Turkish relations. Subsequent events showed that Paris is not alone. Meanwhile, our country asserted its position in the Black Sea region. As a result of the next Russian-Turkish war of 1787 – 1791, unleashed by Constantinople not without the influence of the Western powers, Russia, according to the Treaty of Iasi, was assigned the Crimea and Ochakov, and the border between the two states was relegated to the Dniester.
The 19th century is marked by new armed conflicts between Russia and Turkey. The 1806 – 1812 and 1828 – 1829 wars brought success to the Russian arms. The Crimean Campaign (1853 – 1856) is another matter. Here we already clearly see the vile behavior of Britain and France, who incited Porto to oppose Russia. The first victories of the Russians in the Caucasian theater of military operations and at Sinop showed with their own eyes that the Turks could not win the campaign alone. Then England and France, having dropped the disguise, had to go to war themselves. The Russophobic physiology of papism looked out from under the veil and twisted with anger. “The war that France entered into with Russia,” said Cardinal Sibur of Paris, “is not a political war, but a holy war. This is not a war between the state and the state, the people with the people, but the only religious war. All other grounds exhibited by the cabinets are essentially nothing more than pretexts, and the true reason that pleases God is the need to drive away the heresy ... to tame it, to crush it. This is the recognized purpose of this new crusade, and such was the hidden purpose of all previous crusades, although those who participated in them did not admit to it. ” Russia lost the war. We were forbidden, among other things, to have a military fleet on the Black Sea, infringing upon our sovereignty and humiliating our national pride. The most vital role in concluding the Paris Peace Treaty (1856) was played by Austria, who repaid Russia with black ingratitude for saving the Habsburg monarchy during the 1848 revolution of the year.
The Crimean War did not become the last for the Ottoman Empire with Russia in the XIX century. A Balkan campaign of 1877 – 1878 followed, during which the Turkish forces were utterly defeated.
As one would expect, in the First World War, the Port found itself in the camp of the opponents, having entered the Fourth Alliance. How this war ended, we know - monarchies fell in Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
It is rather curious that the Bolshevik dictatorship comes closer to the Kemal Ataturk regime. There is a mystery here, if we take into account the belonging of the Turkish leader with his entourage and some prominent Bolsheviks to Freemasonry. Ataturk himself, as far as is known, was initiated (1907) into the Masonic Lodge of Veritas (“Truth”), which was under the jurisdiction of the Great East of France. From this point of view, the friendship of Lenin and his associates with Turkey is still waiting for its researchers.
In World War II, Ankara was inclined to the side of fascist Germany, but, having learned from experience, it was cautious and waited. And soon the Turks were convinced that they would lose by getting involved in a war against the USSR. It is usually thought that it became clear after the success of the Red Army at Stalingrad. However, it is possible that even earlier - after the defeat of the German troops near Moscow in the autumn-winter 1941 of the year, which signified the collapse of the Hitlerite plan of the lightning war, the failure of the strategic plans of the German command, which ultimately predetermined the victory of the USSR. The Turks understood the lesson and refrained from direct participation in hostilities against the Soviet Union.
Backstab, nothing personal
The history of the confrontation between Russia and Turkey indicates that the Russians fought mainly defensive wars, during which our territory expanded in the Black Sea and the Caucasus. The task was not to capture new foreign lands, as is sometimes argued, but to create a geopolitical space that would ensure security before the hostile world of the outside world and the other peoples of the empire.
History also testifies to the fact (and this is the most important) that Turkey is our centuries-old and implacable adversary, both in the past and in the present, in spite of any easing and treatment that we had until recently. After all, the fact that it helped and helps, as earlier Shamil, the North Caucasian militants, is a member of NATO - an organization hostile to Russia. However, contrary to the real historical reality, we imagined that Turkey was not only our closest neighbor, but also a friendly state. There was even a joint Strategic (!) Planning Council with the Turks. Where does such, as a classic would say, “extraordinary lightness in thoughts”? I find two sources here.
Since the time of Gorbachev, our foreign policy has to a large extent begun to be based on the personal relations of Russian leaders with foreign ones, excuse me, "colleagues" and "partners." Every now and then we heard: “My friend Helmut”, “Friend George”, “Friend Bill”, even “Friend Ryu”. Did “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” fall into this company? I do not exclude this, bearing in mind the preferences that the Russian leadership has showered Turkey up to the death of our Su-24. These are honored by old friends, not by centuries-old opponents.
Our traditional gullibility peculiar to the Russian character also rendered us a bad service. In everyday life, it is excusable, but in politics it is not, because it leads to mistakes detrimental to the security of the country. We made such a mistake, trusting Erdogan and substituting his back for him, while the elementary rule should be remembered: they do not turn their backs on their enemies. But instead of recognizing this and thereby excluding the repetition of similar mistakes in the future, we set off in moral and ethical considerations completely inapplicable to politics. In all international affairs, we need to follow the historical experience tested by centuries. He convincingly testifies that Turkey has been and remains an opponent of Russia. In relations with such a neighbor, the powder must be kept dry.