In epoch of Peter The Great the priority of the Foreign Policy of Russia was the fight for access to the Baltic sea, and it was realized as the long, lasting during almost all Peter's reign, Northern War with Sweden (1700-1721).
To unleash war against Sweden, Russia had to make peace with Turkey. To accomplish this task the Embassy of the scribe E.I. Ukraintsev was sent to Constantinople, where the armistice for 30 years was signed on July 13, 1700. As soon as the news about the armistice reached Moscow (August 8, 1700) Peter declared war to Sweden.
By this time Swedish king Carl XII defeated Denmark and moved to the Baltic States. In October Russian forces laid siege to Swedish fortress Narva. On October 19, 1700 they received a sudden devastating blow from 12-thosand troop under the leadership of Carl XII and were defeated. To the great extent it happened due to the betrayal of foreign officers under leadership of Duke Sh. de Croa and the lack of skill of Russian regiments. At that time Peter was in Nizhny Novgorod. The Narva defeat made international status of Russia worse. Believing Russia to have lost the war completely, Carl XII concentrated on the fight against Poland.
In 1704 the Russian took Narva and Derpt (Yuriev), forced the Swede back to Revel (Tallinn) and Riga. As a result Russia obtained strong position in Eastern Baltic states, access to the sea and suggested peace to Sweden, but got the refusal. In 1704 under the Swede's pressure S. Leschinsky was enthroned in Poland. It made Peter help August II with his armed forces (on August 19, 1704 Peter I and August II signed a new Russia-Poland treaty in Narva). 60-thousand Russian Army under the leadership of Menshikov acted in Poland and Lithuania. Despite all these, forces of August II were defeated, and on September 24 he signed disgraceful separate peace treaty with Sweden, moreover, he refused Polish throne and alliance with Russia.
In summer, 1708 Carl XII moved to Russia. Having defeated Russian forces in Golovchino in July 1708, he took the crossing over the Dnepr.The crushing defeat of 16-thousand corps near the village Lesnaya on September 28, 1708 became fatal for the Swedes. More then 9 thousand people were killed or injured. This battle took most of Carl's reserves, ammunition and considerably weakened his forces. Soon after Lesnaya 13-thousand corps of General Lubeker tried to attack St. Petersburg from Finland, but Admiral Apraksin, the Head of the city defense, managed to parry this attempt successfully and defeat the Swedes, who lost almost one third of the personnel.
In winter 1708/1709 in Ukraine Carl's force appeared in an extremely hard situation. Carl XII laid siege to the fortress Poltava, which lasted for three months. Peter decided to give a general battle. On June 24, 1709 the famous Battle of Poltava took place. Swedish forces were completely defeated by Russians.
8 thousand Swedish soldiers and officers were killed and 3 thousand people were captured, Russians lost 1,5 thousand people. In three days (on June, 30) retreating, left by its King Swedish Army led by Lewengoupt surrendered to pursuing it 9-thousand Menshikov's corps near Perevolochna on Dnepr. Swedish King and hetman Masepa ran away to Turkey.
The Victory of Poltava changed the course of the war. Denmark and Saxony renewed the alliance with Russia, and then Prussia and Hanover joined them. So far as Sweden refused peaceful proposal of Russia concerning its rights of the possessing the lands near the Finnish Bay, Peter operated actively in Poland (Menshikov) and in the Baltic States (Sheremetev). In 1710 the Russian forces took the fortress Elbing, and after the siege Swedish garrisons of Riga, Vyborg, Pernov, Revel and other fortresses surrendered. Thus, the Baltic States were cleaned from the Swedes.
On November 10, 1710 Turkish Sultan declared war to Russia, having demanded Azov back and liquidation of the Russian Fleet. At the end of February 1711, after unsuccessful diplomatic efforts, Peter had to accept Turkish challenge.
On July 9, 1711 38-thousand Russian Army was surrounded by 135-thousand Turkish Army and 50-thousand host of Crimean Khan at the river Prut. Turkish janissaries attacked Russians but met severe resistance on the Russian side and had to retreat, having lost about 8 thousand people. Russians lost half of that amount but they were in dangerous condition, too.
Peter agreed to negotiate with Turkish vizier Mekhmed-pasha. In accordance with the peace treaty, signed on July 12, 1711 in Prut, Russia returned Azov, destroyed fortresses Taganrog and Kamenny Zaton on Dnepr, removed the armed forces from Poland. But the Army was saved; peace on the southern boundaries was restored.
In 1712 Russian forces together with Danish and Saxon Armies operated successfully in Pomerania (Poland). In spring, 1713 with the help of galleys Russians occupied Helsingfors (Helsinki), and in summer Swedes left Abo. But Swedish Fleet was still in the Baltic. On July 1714 Russian Fleet led by F.M. Apraksin defeated the great Swedish squadron near the Cape Gangut (peninsula Hanko). Thanks to this victory Russia was able to transmit operations to Swedish territory; soon Russians took Aland isles, and stepped on the Swedish coast.
England, Hanover, Holland and Denmark decided to use Russian success and concluded an alliance with Russia against Sweden. In fact, England and Holland didn't want Sweden to be defeated completely and Russia to have strong position on the Baltic. So, the coalition broke up, and on August 4, 1717 Russia-France alliance was concluded. In May 1718 Aland Congress opened, and the negotiations on Russia-Sweden peace treaty started. But sudden death of Carl XII, who was killed in an accidental clash in Norway, interrupted the negotiation. New Swedish Queen Ulrika-Eleonora and her advisers were hoping to conclude the alliance with England and were delaying the finishing of the war.
English squadron appeared near Russian coast in the Baltic. In reply, in 1719 Russian forces landed in Sweden and, having made some successful operations, came back, and Peter's Fleet won the battle of Saaremaa island. In July 1720 rowing fleet commanded by M.M. Golitsin gained the victory of the Grengam isle, having taken 4 Swedish frigates. In spring 1721 Russian forces landed near Stockholm in order to press on Swedish government. International situation contributed to it, too: position of Russia in Poland became stronger, and on November 5, 1720 the 'eternal peace' treaty with Turkey was signed. At last, after the long negotiations on August 30, 1721 in Finnish town Nishtadt the Russia-Sweden peace treaty was signed. The Northern War was finished.
Russia received Ingerman-landia, a part of Karelia, Estlandia and Liflandia including Riga, Derpt, Narva, Vyborg, Korela, the isles Dago and Esel in the Baltic, having paid for territorial acquisition 2 millions efimkas(silver rubles). Russia became the great European country.
On October 22, 1721 at the ceremonial session of the Senate the title of the emperor was given to Peter by the Chancellor G.I. Golovkin. By this act Russia was declared to be the empire, and its ruler - to be the head of the powerful state, entered the unity of the world states. The Eastern direction of the foreign policy was of the great importance too. On September 12, 1723 in St. Petersburg the peace treaty with Persia was signed, according to which eastern and western coasts of the Caspian sea with Derbent and Baku and provinces Gilyan, Mazenderan, Astrabad were included into the Russian empire; Russia and Persia concluded defensive alliance against Porta. According to the Istanbul treaty (June 12, 1724) Turkey admitted all the Russian acquisition in Pricaspie and refused its claims to Persia. Thus, the defense of southeast boundaries of Russia was made stronger, and its international prestige grew higher.