The expansion of Russia: Poland, the Baltic and the Near East
This chapter describes the expansion of Russia, and the wars by which it was accomplished, were in the long run desirable from the point of view of the ordinary Russian. The increasing efficiency of governments and diplomatic services and the growing size of armies meant that foreign policies could be carried out with increasing vigour and continuity. The emergence as major powers of Russia and Prussia, the expansion of the first British Empire, the achievement of American independence, are more directly relevant to the present day than much of the art, literature and intellectual life of the period. In July 1709 a Swedish army which had invaded Russia in the previous year, commanded by the king in person, was totally defeated by the Russians at Poltava in the Ukraine. The partition of Poland, though it deprived the Turks of any hope of effective help against Russia, did little to hasten the end of the Russo-Turkish war.