At the time of Nikolay I reign, the foreign policy kept its former reference points: the maintenance of the stable order in Europe and the expansion in the East. Unlike Alexander I, the new emperor did not try to keep the Sacred union, preferring to solve the problem by bilateral agreements.
In March 1826 in St. Petersburg the Russian-English report on cooperation in the reconciliation of Turkey with the revolutionist-Greeks was signed. In case of refusal by Turkey of their intermediary, Russia and England might put Turkey under their joint pressure. By the plan of the English diplomacy, this agreement was supposed to prevent independent actions of Russia in the East.
The Russian government sent to Turkey a note with the requirement to carry out obligations under former contracts: on the Russian-Turkish borders, and also concerning the internal rights of Serbia, Moldova and Walachia. The note was supported by England and Austria, they were afraid to give Nikolay I a pretext for the beginning of the war. The 25th of September (the 7th of October) 1826 was signed the Russian-Turkish convention, confirming the former obligations of Turkey. In July 1826 when in Akkerman negotiations were still going on, the Shah of Iran, supported by English diplomats, found the moment suitable for returning the territories lost in 1813, through the Gulistan's peace treaty. The Iranian army grasped the southern part of Transcaucasia and besieged the fortress Shusha. But in September Russian forces superseded the Iranian army from there.
In April 1827 the Caucasian forces under I.F.Paskevich's command crossed the Iran's border, in June occupied Nakhichevan, in October - Erivan and Tabriz, creating a direct menace to Teheran. In February 1828, in Turkmanch was signed a peace treaty on which to Russia were sent Erivan's and Nakhichevan khanates. The contract, favourable to Russia, was A.S.Griboedov's diplomatic success; he soon became the Russian envoy in Teheran.
To strengthen its positions on the Balkan Russia was regularly supporting and protecting the Greek population living under the menace of physical destruction. In December 1826, Greeks asked Russian government for military help. The 24th of June 1827 in London was signed a convention between Russia, England and France, about intermediary between Turkey and Greece.
Having concluded a peace treaty with Iran, Nikolay I in April 1828 declared war to Turkey. The 2nd of September 1829 in Adrianople was signed a Russian-Turkish peace treaty on which to Russia were sent islands of the estuary of Danube, the eastern coast of the Black sea, the fortresses of Akhaltsikh and Akhalkalaky. The openness of the Black Sea passages for Russian trading ships was confirmed. Turkey undertook to provide the autonomy of the Danube princedoms, Serbia and Greece.
The strengthening of Russia in the Near East and in straits demanded the establishment of good relations with Turkey. The Russian government offered its help in settlement of the conflict with the Egyptian Pasha Mohammed Ali, whose armies came nearer to Constantinople. In February 1833, the Russian squadron under the command of admiral Lazarev landed a 14-thousand landing near Constantinople. In May Mohammed Ali signed a peace agreement with the Turkish sultan. However, the Russian landing was evacuated only after the 26th of June 1833. Turkey concluded with Russia the Unkar-Iklesysk contract about a defensive union for a period of 8 years. In exchange for the Russian military help, Turkey on the basis of confidential articles of the contract, was supposed to close the straits for foreign warships in case of war. This contract became the top of the diplomatic successes of Russia in the Eastern question. At the same time, relations between Russia and its European allies deteriorated.
The July's revolution of 1830 in France, and then the Polish revolt promoted the rapprochement between Russia and Austria. The 3rd of October1833, Russia, Austria and Prussia signed the convention on a mutual guarantee of the Polish possessions and on the giving out of participants of revolutionary movement, having created a certain similarity of the Sacred union. The Russian-Austrian Munchen's convention about cooperation in the Near East questions was signed a month earlier.
Achieving the political isolation of France, Nikolay I tried to normalize relations with England. But the contradictions existing between the two countries constantly grew. England in every possible way aspired to weaken the positions of Russia in the Caucasus, in Turkey and in Central Asia. Russia supported the struggle of North Caucasian mountaineers, supplying them with weapons and ammunitions. The efforts of the English dealers and diplomats by the end of 30s considerably weakened the positions of Russia in Turkey. The interests of Russia and England were confrontating in the Central Asia. For Russia its export to this region was important, and also the import of the Central Asian's clap. With the beginning of war between England and Afghanistan, the activity of the English agents in Central Asia increased. Their purpose was the conclusion of favorable trading agreements with local khans.
Russia constantly advanced its cordons on the south, erected military fortifications at the Caspian sea and Southern Ural. Continuing the approach to Kazakhstan, Russia in 1846 naturalized Kazakhs of the Elder Juzz living earlier under the authority of Kokand's khan. Now almost all Kazakhstan was a part of Russia. The economic support of China by Russia during the opium war (1840-1842) aggravated contradictions between Russia and England in the Far East.
In 1848, the situation in Europe deteriorated: the revolutionary movement covered Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Danube princedoms. Nikolay I broke off diplomatic relations with France and concentrated great efforts on the Russian-Austrian border. Russia granted a great loan to Austria to struggle against the emancipating movement.
In June 1849, the 150-thousand Russian army under the command of I.F.Paskevich tried to help the Austrian empire, unsuccessfully trying to extinguish the Hungarian revolution. In two months, the revolt in Hungary was suppressed, and Austria rescued from disintegration. The European revolution was defeated, and the huge merit belonged to "the gendarme of Europe', that is the Russian autocracy. Nikolay I experienced the true triumph. Surrounded by immeasurable flattery, he sincerely believed in his powerfulness.