Russo-Turkish War

Russo-Turkish War
   1) (1806–1812)
   A secondary conflict occasioned by the Napoleonic Wars. Emboldened by the Russian defeat at Austerlitz, the Porte replaced the Russophile hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia with Ottoman appointees without consulting with the Tsar’s government. In the absence of consultation, Russia had the official causus belli, but an additional factor was the fear of an Ottoman alliance with France that might close the Straits to Russian warships. In response to a Russian ultimatum supported by Britain, the Porte relented over the hospodar appointments, but the tsar demanded further concessions and occupied Moldavia and Wallachia with 40,000 troops, both as a hedge against a French attack in the region and as prod to rebellious Christian enclaves in the Balkans to make common cause with Russia against the Ottoman Empire. The Porte therefore declared war on December 22, opening a war for which neither side was prepared and dragged on for six years. Ultimately, Britain mediated the conflict, and the Treaty of Bucharest acknowledged Ottoman control of Moldavia and Wallachia in exchange for an adjustment of the Russian border that gave Bessarabia to the tsar.
   See also <>; <>.
    Rothenberg, Gunther E. The Napoleonic Wars. London: Cassell, 1999.
   2) (1828–1829)
   A conflict occasioned by Russia’s opportunistic support for Greek independence to secure for itself new territorial leverage in the Caucasus and the Balkans at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. Russia issued a declaration of war to the Porte on April 28, 1828, and launched a two-pronged offensive, one southward into Walachia across the Danube and ultimately against the fortified port of Varna on the west coast of the Black Sea, the other southeast against Kars, Erivan, and Adrianople. When Adrianople was captured on August 20, 1829, Constantinople came under threat and the Porte sought terms. The Treaty of Adrianople improved Russia’s position by giving it control of the mouth of the Danube and the eastern Black Sea shore and establishing a de facto protectorate over Moldavia and Wallachia.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Anderson, M. S. The Eastern Question 1774–1923. London: Macmillan, 1966;
    Jelavich, Barbara. A Century of Russian Foreign Policy 1814–1914. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1964.
   3) (1877–1878)
   The fourth armed conflict between the Russians and the Turks in the nineteenth century, this war was a pivotal turning point in the history of the Eastern Question. It resulted in independence for Serbia, Rumania, and Montenegro. It also led to Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Russian dominance in Bulgaria.
   After Turkish troops had ruthlessly suppressed revolts by Orthodox Christian subjects in Bosnia and Bulgaria in 1875–1876, Serbia and Montenegro declared war against Turkey. Although the Russian government stood aside, Russian military volunteers, including General Chernaiev, a Russian war hero from the Central Asian campaigns, flocked to join Serbian forces to aid in the fight against the Turks. By 1876, these forces had failed miserably and the tsarist government stepped in diplomatically to preserve Serbian autonomy from Turkish repression. When the Turks proved resistant to administrative reforms proposed by Russia, Austria, and Germany, the tsarist government prepared for war. To gain Austrian acquiescence, Russia promised to allow Austrian occupation of Bosnia in return for Austrian recognition of a small Bulgaria under Russian protection. Austria pledged its neutrality in the event of a Russo-Turkish conflict by signing the Treaty of Budapest on January 15, 1877. By February 1877, Russian forces were massing for an offensive out of the south through Rumania. The Rumanians granted Russia permission to transit through their country on April 4, 1877, and they offered Rumanian troops to join in the fight. Russia rejected the offer of Rumanian military assistance, but did cross through Rumania after officially declaring war on Turkey on April 24.
   The military campaigns were fought in two theaters, Bulgaria and the Caucasus, and lasted until the armistice on January 31, 1878. The Russians advanced to the Danube River on June 22, and the Turks began to retreat. The largest body of Turkish troops regrouped at the fortress of Plevna, which guarded the western approach to Sofia. At Plevna, Ottoman armies under the command of Osman Pasha and armed with American-made repeater rifles and German steel artillery held off superior Russian numbers through two assaults and forced the Russians to look to Rumania for additional troops. In the Third Battle of Plevna in September 1877, combined Russian and Rumanian forces totaling 118,000 failed to take the fortress by storm, and the Russians abandoned the attack for siege operations. In December the Turks at Plevna finally surrendered, clearing the way for a Russian advance to the outskirts of Constantinople.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Breyfogle, Nicholas B. Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia ’ s Empire in the South Caucasus. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005;
    Geyer, Dietrich. Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860–1914. New York: Berg, 1987;
    Macfie, A. L. The Eastern Question, 1774–1923. London: Longman, 1996;
    Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Russian Empire, 1801–1917. Oxford: Clarendon, 1967.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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