The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831

By John P. Ledonne | Go to book overview

3
Client States and Societies

Client States: The Western Theater

Russian grand strategy was an essentially political concept, recognizing no discontinuity between peace and wartime. The decisions that shaped it proceeded from a consensus worked out among the ruling elite not only on military and economic policy but also on diplomatic relations with neighboring territories. Most of those territories were found within the Heartland. Some were core areas, others were frontiers between them and Russia. Russia's diplomatic vision was largely confined to the Heartland. Muscovy and the empire—even if the term empire did not come into official use until Peter's reign—had grown since the mid–sixteenth century by co-opting local elites and becoming a multi-clan and multi-ethnic political configuration, in which the tsar was the grand patron of a complex system of clientage. Much of Russian diplomacy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries sought to expand this system of patronage, from which the Romanov house derived great prestige. Relations with peripheral states and societies were rooted in the traditional pattern of patron-client relationships at the Muscovite court. This brings us to the third principle underlying Russia's emerging grand strategy: if one was the determination to carry out deep strategic penetrations within the Heartland and only occasionally beyond its periphery, and the second the deployment of the strategic force originally in the old Muscovite core, the third was the creation of a glacis of client states and societies beyond which there sometimes stretched an “invisible frontier” of client relationships with other peoples along the Heartland's periphery or even beyond it.

The definition of a patron-client relationship does not come easily, because patrons do not always demand the same type of services from different clients and, as a result, clients play a variety of roles. Different roles in turn establish a hierarchy of clients. A buffer state is not a client, because it can afford a neutral stance between two rival great powers. A “friendly kingdom” 1 is another great power; it assumes a friendly stance and benefits from the imperial power's friendship, because common interests require that they cooperate on a number of issues, no matter how much

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The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Maps xv
  • The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650–1831 *
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I - The Formation of Russia's Grand Strategy, 1650–1743 13
  • 1 - The Geopolitical Background 15
  • 2 - Mobile Armies 38
  • 3 - Client States and Societies 61
  • Part II - Hegemonic Expansionism, 1743–1796 83
  • 4 - Deep Strikes 85
  • 5 - Peripheral Deployment 108
  • 6 - Economy, Culture, Client Societies 132
  • Part III - The Territorialization of the Empire, 1797–1831 154
  • 7 - Strategic Penetration 155
  • 8 - Dispersion of the Strategic Force 177
  • 9 - Fortress Empire 198
  • Conclusion 219
  • Notes 235
  • Bibliography 251
  • Index 259
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