The twenty-year war which now engulfed the Baltic saw the emergence of Russia as the leading power in the area and the loss by Sweden of most of the gains which it had made in the southern and eastern Baltic since the middle of the sixteenth century. From the conflict Denmark gained little in power or prestige, and the territory which it did win in the Duchies was to cause the main problems in its foreign policy over the next forty years. The war, during most of its progress, was paralleled by that over the Spanish succession, which until 1713 and the peace of Utrecht absorbed most of the energies of the other great European powers: France, Britain, the United Provinces and the Empire. By the time these could again devote their full attention to the Baltic the fate of Sweden was already sealed. Their general policies henceforward were to try to prevent the delicate balance in the area being completely upset by Russia, a largely unknown quantity in western Europe, which at one stage had stood menacingly on the river Elbe.