The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831

By John P. Ledonne | Go to book overview

4
Deep Strikes

Sweden, France, and Prussia

We now turn to the evolution of Russia's grand strategy from the accession of Elizabeth to the death of Catherine II and to an analysis of its three major principles—strategic penetration, deployment, and the client system—at a time when Russia sought and achieved hegemony in the Heartland. Faced with the reluctance of the Swedish client to accept its place in the new international order created by the Treaty of Nystadt (1721) and ill-conceived attempts to regain some of its losses, the empire struck back with a determination to destroy Sweden's military capability and discipline it to accept Russia's overlordship. Russian troops were stationed in Stockholm for the first and only time. Determined likewise to teach the Prussian client that Russia alone was entitled to manage the client system anchored in the friendly kingdom, Russia fought the bloodiest engagements of the century against Frederick II, and its troops even briefly occupied Berlin. In the southern theater, imperial troops finally broke the Ottoman hold on the Black Sea and even crossed the Danube under the watchful apprehension of the Prussian client and Austria. Both were subsequently kept in line by an agreement to partition the Polish client. Farther east, a new client state was being created in Georgia. By the time of Catherine's death in 1796, Russian forces were poised for deep penetrations beyond the Heartland's periphery, in Holland and northern Italy. Russia's position as hegemon and arbiter of interclient disputes within the Heartland had become an incontrovertible fact.

The Russo-Swedish War of 1741–43 was a huge misunderstanding. Sweden's fearful realization that it was being treated like another Poland; the political dominance of the Hats; the perception of would-be weakness after the Crimean campaign of 1735–38; the summary execution by the Russians in 1739 of Major Malcolm Sinclair, a member of the Swedish parliament carrying dispatches to Constantinople; and French incitements convinced Stockholm to declare war in July 1741. Seldom was a war fought in such an incompetent manner. The Swedes' failure demonstrated conclusively that if they could declare war, it was the Russians

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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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