Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIII
The Campaign on the Pruth 1711

Peter decided to carry the war deep into Ottoman territory before the Turks could invade Russia. It was a bold plan, but not new. For some years Orthodox Christian leaders in Moldavia, Wallachia, and the Balkans had been appealing to him to adopt this strategy. They had urged him to invade the Budzhak, capture the Perekop Isthmus, and seize Ochakov, which was more important even than Azov as a key to the Black Sea.1 Despite their urging, Peter had in the past concentrated on building up Azov and Taganrog, and in 1700 had even welcomed the idea of the thirty-year peace with the Sultan because this would allow him to devote himself to the war against Sweden. But now he commanded a well-equipped and seasoned army; Poltava had given him prestige and confidence; and the power of the Sultan was no longer so intimidating. The plan to attack and invade first had strong appeal, even though it depended largely on the Orthodox Christians rising against their Moslem masters. This was a risk, but one that Peter felt he had to take if he was to avoid Turkish invasion of the Ukrainian steppes.

For the present the Ukraine was quiet. Hetman Skoropadsky had a few days after Poltava submitted detailed demands for confirmation of all Cossack privileges and rights, and for protection against Russian depredations.2 Peter had promised irrevocably to honour his guarantees to the Cossacks, and had even, in January 1710, given Skoropadsky written confirmation of them.3 At the same time, as a safeguard against any repetition of Mazepa's betrayal, he appointed a special

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