The central tasks of foreign policy of Russia in the second half of XVIII century were: providing the outlet to the Black sea; reunion with the Ukrainia and Byelorussia lands, still remaining under the authority of Rech Pospolita; fortification of the positions in Baltic. France, Austria, Ottoman empire and Rech Pospolita opposed to accomplishing these tasks.
With the accession of Catherine's II to the throne the new foreign policy course was set. It was aimed at getting rid of dependence on the Versailles and Viennese courtyards and establishing new own system, without mating its own actions with interests of other powers. With such understanding of tasks of foreign policy was penetrated the activity of N.I.Panin, who was heading the collegium of foreign affairs for twenty years.The project developed by Panin was meant to provide peace and political balance in Europe and to create conditions for the successful solving of a southern problem by Russia. The following countries were supposed to enter the Northern system: on rights of "active" members - Russia, England, Prussia, partly Denmark, which might have represented themselves as the key forces in struggle against the countries of the southern union; on rights of "passive" members - Rech Pospolita and Sweden.
In 1764 Russia concluded the trade contract with Prussia, in 1765 - with Denmark, in 1766 - with England. The Russian diplomacy managed to achieve the break of the dangerous French - Swedish union and in 1764 to raise Catherine's II protégé - Stanislav Avgust Ponjatovski to the Polish throne.
However in the beginning of 70es Russia had to shift its ground in the Polish question. The convention of 1772 had issued the first section of Speech Pospolita: Galitsia passed to Austria, Pomorje (seaboard) and a part of Great Poland went to Prussia, a part of East Byelorussia went to Russia.
In the 2nd half of XVIII the relations between Russia and Ottoman empire remained extremely tensed. Set by France, at the end of 1768 the Turkish sultan had declared war to Russia. Russia had military advantage over Turkey in Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774. In July 1774 in a small Bulgarian village the Kyuchuk-Kainargi peace treaty with Turkey was signed, by which Russia took Kerch, Yenikale, Kinburn and Kabarda. Russia was granted the right of trading navigation over the Black Sea, constructions of ports at the Black Sea coast and pass of trading crafts to Mediterranean sea. Vassal dependence of the Crimean khanate on Turkey was liquidated. Thus, the results of the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774 provided safety of southern borders of the state and made possible wide development of the fertile grounds of Northern Black Sea coast.
On the 8th of April 1783 Crimea was joined to Russia. On the 24th of July Georgievsky treaty was signed, which had established the protectorate of Russia above East Georgia. Russia's success in solving the southern problem caused the envious attitude of the European powers - England and France and nourished the revanchist aspirations of Ottoman empire. Catherine's II trip to Crimea in spring 1787 had resulted in an aggravation of Russian-Turkish relations. In August, having accused Russia in breach of conditions of the Kyuchyk-Kainargy peace treaty, Turkey declared war.
The top of strategic successes of Russia in the war of 1787-1791 was the capture of an unapproachable fortress Izmail on the left coast of Danube. Turks lost 26 thousand killed, 9 thousand captured, 265 weapons. Losses of Russian armies made 1815 killed and 2,5 thousand casualties.After defeat at Izmail the Turks had asked for peace. On the 29th of December, 1791 Yassky peace treaty was concluded, which had confirmed the attachment of Crimea to Russia and the establishment of protectorate above Georgia. The territory between Boug and Dnestr had also passed to Russia.
Together with Russian-Turkish war an armed struggle against Sweden was going on. In 1788 the Swedish king Gustav III, expecting to take advantage of hardships of Russian-Turkish war, had deployed military operations against Russia to win back the lands lost by Sweden in the first quarter of XVIII. However, these claims proved their full inconsistency. The military actions, which were taking place on the sea and on land (mainly, on the territory of Finland), were marked by victories of the Russian weapon. In March 1790 in village Verele (Finland) the peace treaty was concluded, restoring status quo between Russia and Sweden, existing prior to the beginning of war.
The 2nd half of XVIII was marked by intensification of influence of Russia on the international relations. In 1778 under pretence of protection of the all-European interests Russia had interfered with the conflict of Austria and Prussia around " the Bavarian inheritance ". The Russian diplomacy put their efforts to transforming the Russian intermediary into constant arbitration in the German affairs. Having strengthened the influence in the given region, in 1781 Russia had contracted the alliance with Austria, due to which it was possible to essentially weaken counteraction of England, France and Prussia in a question of joining Crimea to Russia.
Power lines of the world politics were more and more developed towards Russia. In 1780 Russia had propounded with the initiative stated in the Declaration of armed neutrality. According to the last, the neutral countries, which were not participating in the war of North American colonies for the independence at the end of 70 - the beginning of 80es, had the right for free navigation and trade with the countries participating in war. Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Prussia, Austria and other states had joined the Declaration of armed neutrality. Objectively this act contributed to the victory of the American revolution, having broken the plans of England of full blockade of insurgent colonies.
Far more complicated and contradictory was the attitude of the Russian ruling circles to the Great French revolution of 1789-1794. Firstly, the Russian empress and her courtyard didn't emphasize the social cataclysms, which had burst in France. The crisis concerning official circles of Russia had come in 1792, when Girondist came to power in France and the king's life was under the real threat. In July, 1792 the diplomatic representative of France in Russia E.Gene was ordered to leave the territory of Russian empire. The execution of Lui XVI accomplished on January 21, 1793 served as a cause to final breakup with France. After receiving the news the three-day mourning was declared at the Russian courtyard.
On the 13th of February 1793The highest decree of the termination of relations with France was published. After suppression of the Polish national-liberation movement and the third unit of Poland, Catherine II had closely engaged in preparation of measures on liquidation of the French center of disturbances. In 1795 Russia, England and Austria contracted the Triple Alliance for joint actions against revolutionary France. The 60-thousand corps expedition to France under command of Souvorov was also planned. However, the intention was never fulfilled because of Catherine's II death on the 6th of November1796.
Catherine's II beginnings were partly continued by Paul I. In 1798. Russia had entered the new anti-French coalition formed by Austria, Ottoman empire, England and Naples. Military actions were deployed both on land, and on the sea. After the upheaval of the 18th brumer and the establishment of consulate of Napoleon in 1799 the character of Russian-French relations suddenly started to change. In 1800 Russia broke off the relations with England and Austria, which had showed themselves unfair allies, and in the same year the peace agreement with France was completed. In Berlin, and then in Paris the Russian-French negotiations gathered strength for the conclusion of the strong treaty of alliance between Russia and France - such task was assigned to the Russian representative S.A.Kolychev, who arrived to Paris in March 1801. However, this process was interrupted by regicide on the 11th of March 1801.