Diplomatic, ideological and military aspects of the Russo-Turkish war (1768-1774)
The study of Russo-Turkish relations has enough historic interest because it covers many aspects of the Eastern Question. The Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774 was the point where the course of the Russo-Turkish relations changed. During the previous decades, Russia tried to establish its position in the south and it was quite successful after capturing Azov in 1696. However, the Turks managed to gain Azov back from the Russians (1711) and maintained their supremacy in the Black Sea. By the end of the war (1774) the Turks lost Crimea which became an independent state. On the other hand, the Russians gained considerable territorial, religious and commercial advantages over the Turks. From the diplomatic point of view, the triangle between Russia, Turkey and major European states (Britain/France) functioned in the most disharmonious way. Having similar interests, Russia and the states of Western Europe struggled for which country would gain more out of Turkey. Turkish diplomacy had no alternatives other than offering more and more financial and territorial interests to France or Britain every time Turkey was threatened by Russia. In exchange Turkey managed to get protection, mainly from France. That becomes quite obvious in the writings of Lord Cathcart (the British ambassador in St. Petersburg during the period 1768-1773) where the issue for French diplomacy was the preservation of the Ottoman Empire. The Russian triumph over the Turks in 1774 was in a large degree caused by the efficiency of its armed forces which were ready to face the consequences of a long war on three fronts: Moldavia, Crimea and Greece (Peloponnese and the Aegean islands). In the meantime, the Russian diplomacy under the guidance of Panin gained every advantage it could get out of this war without making any serious compromises with either the Turks or with France or Britain.