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The Reign of Peter III (December 25, 1761 - June 28, 1762)
Social and Economical Development of Russia in 1725-1762
Foreign Policy in 1725-1762
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Foreign Policy in 1725-1762

The success of Russian foreign policy in the first quarter of the XVIII century and turning of Russia into the great state caused the hostile attitude towards the country on the side of most European states, and it was already shown in the time of the closest successors of Peter I.

England took clear inimical position: being afraid of loosing its role of the mediator in Russian foreign trade and of appearing to be in economical dependence on Russian shipbuilding materials, it was against Russia to be powerful in politics and the Navy. Growing international importance of Russia worried France, which, in order to counteract Russia, supported Sweden, and even financed operations against Russia on the Baltic. France and England spread a rumour about aggressive intentions of Russia concerning German states, reckoning to set Western and Northern states against Russia.

Hostility of the European governments was shown when delaying recognizing the Russian sovereigns' title of the Emperor (England, Austria, France, Spain recognized the title only in 1740s, and Rzeczpospolita - in 1764).
At the same time European diplomacy had to take into account the increasing role of Russia and according to the situation in Europe attract it to the certain political combinations. However, the long period of opposition in 1730s was changed by the improvement Russia-England relations, when in 1734 the agreement 'About friendship, mutual commerce and navigation' with the 15-year period of validity was signed.

Rapprochement between Russia and England called negative reaction on the side of French Government, which in reply turned to the policy of 'Eastern barrier'. To perform its plans France started organizing the alliance of Sweden, Poland and Turkey against Russia. The so-called war for 'Poland inheritance' in 1733-1735 appeared to be the first large conflict with the participation of Russia in the second quarter of the XVIII century. Ultimately, that was Russian military and diplomatic support that provided enthroning of August's II son, Saxon elector Friedrich-August. However Russian win made the Russia-France relations more acute. France tried to revenge by inciting Sweden and Osman Empire to act against Russia.

In 1735 Russia-Turkey war started. In the course of this war Russia tried to secure its southern boundaries, which were constantly threatened by Turkey and its vassal The Crimean Khanate, provide convenient trade ways to Asia by the main Russian rivers, entering the Black and the Caspian sea, and return lands, lost according to Prut agreement of 1711. With large losses Russian Army took Asov in 1736 and Ochakov in 1737. In 1739 the important battle of Stavuchany took place, it resulted in Turkish force retreating and leaving Russians the ways to the fortresses Khotin and Yassan. But on the whole, the results of the war, cost 100 thousand Russian warriors their life, were insignificant. According to Belgrade agreement of 1739 Russia got Asov, but didn't received the right to have the Fleet on the Asov sea and fortifications in Asov. Russia received a small territory in Right-bank Ukraine. Ultimately, the main strategic aims weren't achieved; Russia only managed to revise the conditions of Prut agreement. Anti-Russia Military Unity of Turkey and Sweden, concluded in 1739 with the help of French diplomacy, created unfavorable background for the further Russian foreign policy.

In 1741 Sweden started military operations against Russia. Impelled by France and Prussia, Swedish government strove to abolish the conditions of Nishtadt peace of 1721 and get back the Baltic lands. However, the attacking side overestimated its forces: military operations, taking place on the territory of Finland, showed the obvious superiority of the Russian Army. In 1743 in Abo the peace treaty was signed, which proved territorial acquisition of Russia in the Northern War and moved Russian boundaries 60 versts inside Finland beyond Vyborg.

Since 1744 the chancellor A.P.Bestuzhev-Ryumin, who was a professional diplomat and had started to serve in 1712, directed the foreign policy of Russia. Bestuzhev's program of foreign policy, which he called 'the system of Peter I', took into consideration common interests of Russia, England, Holland and the Austrian Empire. The first three states, not having mutual territorial pretensions, had long trade relations, and as for Russia and Austria, both were interested in keeping balance in Central Europe and in rebuff to the Osman Empire.

Russia had to fight against Prussia during the Seven-year war (1756-1763), which was a European war. England and France were fighting for the American and Asian colonies and for mastery on the sea. Having become stronger after the Revolution of the XVII century, England was stroking devastating blows to colonies and sea communications of absolutists France.

In 1757 Russian Army stepped on the territory of Western Prussia and soon seriously defeated Prussian forces near the village Gross-Egersdorf. In 1758 the bloody battle of Zorndorf took place, which ended in disgraceful flight of the Prussians. In 1759 the battle on the right bank of the Oder, near Kunersdorf, took place, and it resulted in total defeat of the best Prussian forces and Friedrich II appeared on the verge of suicide. After the campaign of 1759 the Prussian front didn't exit anymore. The way to Berlin was free. The capital of Prussia was panic-stricken. However, the lack of coordination among the allies caused the march to Berlin to be delayed till 1760. At last, on September 28, 1760 Russian forces came into Berlin. Berlin was forced to pay large indemnity, and its keys were sent to Elizabeth Petrovna. According to the Russian command's plan, taking of Berlin was to disorganize economical and political center of Prussia. The aim gained, the Russian Army started moving back.

But the Seven-year war hadn't finished with that yet: in 1761 Prussian fortress Kolberg on the Baltic sea capitulated. After that Prussian force were completely defeated and its last resources exhausted. Prussia was saved by chance. Peter III, enthroned on December 25, 1761, totally changed the course of Russian foreign policy. On the first day of his reign he sent a message to Friedrich II, where he announced his intention to set 'eternal friendship' between them. In April 1762 the peace treaty with Berlin was signed. Russia went out of the Seven-year war. Having come on the throne in June 1762, Catherine II condemned orally foreign policy of her predecessor, but nevertheless, didn't renew the war with Prussia and confirmed the peace treaty. Consequently, the Seven-year war brought no acquisition to Russia. It brought another results: Russian positions on the Baltic, won in the first quarter of the XVIII century, and international prestige of Russia proved to be strong, the valuable military experience was gained.

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