Basic orientations of foreign policy of Russia were formed in the time of the Grand Duke Ivan III. They were: the Baltic (northwest), Lithuanian (western), Crimean (southern), Kazan and Nogaysk (southeast). Association of Lands activated Russian foreign policy.
In the beginning of 1507 re-elected Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Sigizmund I (Old) managed to enlist the support of the Crimean and Kazan Khanates in the struggle against Moscow. Military operations began in March 1507 in the west (Chernigov) and in the south (armies of the Crimean Khan attacked Kozelsk, Belev, Odoyev). But neither Russia, nor Lithuania had enough forces for a decisive armed conflict and in September 1508 the peace treaty was concluded. Russia regained the northern lands (the territory of a former Chernigov Princedom). The Livonian Order did not support Sigizmund, moreover, in 1509 it concluded an armistice with Russia for the period of 14 years.
In 1508 Russian managed to reconcile a dispute with the Kazan Khanate. So, Kazan did not take part in the Russian-Lithuanian conflict. In the year of 1514, as a result of a three-month siege, Moscow armies took the ancient Russian city of Smolensk, which was occupied by Lithuania back in XV century.
The Western Europe sought after Russian participation in Anti-Turkish coalition. Vasily III avoided entering this coalition, but being interested in friendly relations with the German Empire did not give a direct negative answer. At the same time he tried to preserve steady trade relations with Turkey - trade with the East prevailed in Russian economy.
After joining of Pskov and Smolensk to Moscow southeast and east became the basic orientations of foreign policy. Russia had not enough forces for a new military campaign, therefore, the major way of goals achievement for Moscow was through diplomacy and dynasty. Aspiring to preserve friendly relations with the Crimea, Russia tried to set its protectorate over Kazan. Till the year of 1521 it was possible to maintain stability in relations with the Kazan and Crimean Khanates. But in 1521 the Crimean Khan Mohammed-Girey made a plundering raid on Muscovy, his troops stopped only in 15 km from Moscow. An element of surprise was the main trump card. Quickly recovered from the surprise Russian armies managed not only not to yield the besieged Ryazan, but also forced Mohammed-Girey to retreat to the southern borders of Russia. However, the Crimean and Kazan raids into Rus went on and on.
War, though, was not the only instrument of foreign policy of the Russian State. Russia kept regular diplomatic contacts with Denmark, Sweden, the German and Osmanian Empires.
In the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible, especially in the time of Izbrannaya Rada, the eastern direction remained the principal one. Constant raids into Russia made by Kazan Khans distracted Russia from solving the Baltic problem. The Volga Trading Way and fertile soils of the Volga Region were also very attractive to the Moscow government.
The first campaigns against Kazan failed (1547/1548 and 1549-1550). But in the year of 1551 Ivan IV began preparations for a decisive campaign. At the Sviyaga River, at its confluence into the Volga, the Sviyazhsk Fortress was erected during only one month, later it played a role of a base station for the last offensive. In August 1552 the Moscow armies laid the siege of Kazan. The Kazan garrison was 30 thousand strong. While the Russian army was 150 thousand in number and had more than 100 guns. It was the mine that tipped the beam: a section of the wall was destroyed and on October 2 having showed strong resistance Kazan fell. The Kazan Khanate was annexed to Russia. Khan Yadigar-Magmet was taken prisoner. He was christened and later fought on the side of the Russian State. Moscow authorities carried out a policy of russification: they christianized or evicted Tatars.
In 1556 the Astrakhan Empire was liquidated as well. All these conquests reduced the Crimean danger considerably. Ivan IV realized that it was the Osmanian Empire that stayed behind the Crimea, that is why he made no haste to start hostilities, instead, he carried out construction of a defence zone: fortresses and barricade of felled trees to contain the raids of Crimean troops. So, in the middle of XVI century the Tula Defence Zone and then, in 30-40's of XVII century, the Belgorod Defence Zone were constructed.
In the middle of XVI century Russia gained high international prestige, it maintained diplomatic relations with Sweden, Denmark, the German Empire and Italian cities-states. Russia was visited by official delegations from India and Iran. Since 1553 Ivan IV paid a lot of attention to relations with England where in 1555 "The Moscow Company" started. It had the right to free trade in Russia through Arkhangelsk.