Russia under Catherine
Foreign Policy
18th Century Russia
the Southern Frontier

The Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1791

A.) The Diplomatic Pre-History of the War

The PEACE OF KUCHUK KAINARJI did not satisfy Catherine; she desired further expansion at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, even driving the Turks out of Europe altogether. In 1781 she concluded a secret alliance with Austria directed against the Ottoman Empire. In 1783 she annexed the Crimean Khanate. The French, English and Prussian emissaries in Istanbul attempted to strengthen the Ottoman Empire against Russia, in order to prevent further Russian expansion. In 1783 the Kingdom of Georgia in the Caucasus requested a Russian protectorate.

B.) The Military Course of Events

Catherine's second war with the Ottoman Empire was less simple than the first; the Ottoman army, reorganized, offered more effective resistance. A Russian army under SUVOROV occupied the JEDISAN and crossed the Dnjestr; a Russian fleet occupied islands in the Aegaean. Russian forces took the fortress of Ochakov (1788) and won a victiory at FOKSHANI (July 1789).
In 1788 Gustavus III. of Sweden had declared war (the Swedish-Russian War, 1788-1790) and Russia had to fight on two fronts. Then, in 1790, Austrian Emperor and Russian ally JOSEPH II. died; his successor LEOPOLD II., concerned with the revolution in France and in the Austrian Netherlands, signed a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire.
A Russian victory against the Turks in Nov. 1790 at Ismail and the Ottoman failure to retake Ochakov (taken by the Russians in 1788) caused the Sultan to request peace (December 1791, TREATY OF JASSY).

C.) The Legacy

The Ottoman Empire ceded the JEDISAN to Russia and accepted the Russian annexation of the Crimean Khanate.
Russia got involved in the coalition wars fighting revolutionary France; Czarina Catherine died in 1796. Her successors continued a policy of expansion against the Ottoman Empire, when they were not occupied by fighting the French. In 1812 Russia would annex Bessarabia and occupy the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.

Catherine and Pugachev, by G. Rempel
Chronology. Three ages of Russian Navy. from Russian Navy Website
Glorious Pleiad of Russian admirals, scroll down to Grigory Andeevich Spiridov and Samuel Karlovich Graig (= Samuel Craig)
The foundation of Sevastopol, from
History of the Russian Navy, see chapters 'The Black Sea Fleet', 'Ochakov', 'From Thedonisi to Kerch' and 'Tendra and Kaliakria'
REFERENCE Melvin K. Wren, The Course of Russian History, Prospect Heights 1994 : Catherine's Wars with Turkey, pp.193-195

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 19th 2004

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