Which country has fought most against Russia?

Nikolay Grivitsa-Orenburgsky. Taking of the Grivitsa redoubt by the Russians during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.

Nikolay Grivitsa-Orenburgsky. Taking of the Grivitsa redoubt by the Russians during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.

Russia’s relations with Turkey relations have recently been going through some hard times. They have never been simple. Over a period of 241 years, Russia fought 12 wars against the Ottoman Empire. The time between Russian-Turkish wars was around 19 years, on average.


10 wars from the middle of the 16th to the beginning of the 19th centuries

The history of Russian-Swedish confrontations began in the 12th century. The Novgorod Republic and Sweden fought for control of the Eastern Baltic. The Orekhovetsky Peace Treaty was signed in 1323, under which Karelia came under Novgorod’s zone of influence, and Finland under Swedish.

However, this was only the beginning of a centuries-old series of conflicts. Sweden in 1377 took control of Western Karelia (Esterbotten), which had been a dependency of Novgorod. After 1478, when the Novgorod Republic became part of the Russian state, the struggle with the Swedes for the Eastern Baltic climbed to a new level.

Ivan III went to war against Sweden for Western Karelia again in 1495. The battles were fought with varying degrees of success. Finally, in March 1497, the warring sides signed the First Novgorod Truce, which was to last for six years. It confirmed the borders as they existed in 1323, as well as the principle of free trade between Sweden and Russia. In March 1510, this truce was extended for another 60 years.

Dennis Martin the Younger. The Battle of Poltava / wikipedia.orgDennis Martin the Younger. The Battle of Poltava / wikipedia.org

The tradition of fighting wars against Sweden for the Baltic would continue under other Russian tsars – Ivan IV, Fyodor I, and Alexis (Aleksey Mikhailovich).

However, it was Peter the Great who made cardinal changes to the balance of power in Russian-Swedish relations. After Russia’s victory in the Northern War (1700-1721), Sweden lost its former power. She lost not only territory that was ceded to Russia, but also a lot of land on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. Sweden held on only to Wismar and a small part of Pomerania. As a result of the defeat suffered in the Northern War, the “Era of Freedom” began in Sweden; a period of the weakening power of kings and the increasing importance of the Parliament.

In an effort to regain the lands it lost during the Northern War, Sweden repeatedly came into conflict with the Russian Empire (Russian-Swedish War of 1741-1743, Russian-Swedish War of 1788-1790, and Russian-Swedish War of 1808-1809) but, according to the terms of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, concluded in September 1809, Sweden ceded to Russia the Åland Islands, Finland and Lapland up to the Torne and Muonio Rivers. Sweden, as a result of wars against Russia, lost more than one third of its territory, and lost the status of a great power.


12 wars during 241 years. On average, the time between Russian-Turkish wars was 19 years.

From the end of the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, bloody wars were constantly fought between the Ottoman and Russian Empires. The “bones of contention” were control of the Northern Black Sea areas and the North Caucasus, and later – for the control of the South Caucasus, with the right of navigation in the Black Sea and its straits, as well as for the rights of Christians in the Ottoman Empire.

The defeat of Shipka Peak, Bulgarian War of Independence / wikipedia.orgThe defeat of Shipka Peak, Bulgarian War of Independence / wikipedia.org

During World War I, which resulted in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and its division between the countries of the Entente, the Russian Empire also considered the possibility of capturing Constantinople. Ironically, the Soviet Union played a direct role in the establishment of the Turkish Republic. The centuries-old feud turned into economic and military support for Turkey’s president Kemal Ataturk .


10 wars – from 1018 to 1939.

Relations between Russia and Poland have always been strained. Primarily, this was because of the centuries-old proximity of the two states, which constantly gave rise to territorial disputes. During all major European conflicts, Russia has always had to deal with revisions of the Russian-Polish border. The most serious confrontation between Russia and Poland started at the beginning of the 17th century, with the Time of Troubles and the Polish-Lithuanian Intervention. By the end of the 18th century, four wars were fought between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which ended in the second partition of Poland.

Poland became part of the Russian Empire in 1815, but the confrontation between the Poles and Russians did not stop; two Polish uprisings of the 19th century (1830, 1863) forced Russia to take countermeasures. In 1832, the Polish Sejm was abolished and the Polish Army was disbanded. In 1864, restrictions were imposed on the use of the Polish language and the movement of the male members of the population. With all this, Russophobia kept growing in Poland.

The Poles surrender the Moscow Kremlin to Prince Pozharsky in 1612 / wikipedia.orgThe Poles surrender the Moscow Kremlin to Prince Pozharsky in 1612 / wikipedia.org

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Poles gained their independence at the end of the Soviet-Polish War of 1919-1921, and kept it for a while, but less than 20 years later, in 1939, during the “Liberation Campaign of the Red Army,” all the achievements of the Poles during the preceding 20 years were liquidated.

The history of wars

Among other countries with a history of fighting wars against Russia is Germany. They have fought three major wars, two of them being World Wars.

The Russian Empire fought wars against France four times (the 1805-1807 War, the War of 1812, and the Crimean War). Russia and the Soviet Union also fought four wars against Japan, and three times participated in military conflicts with China.

Reproduction of "Victory" painting by artist P. Krivonosov (1911-1967). Oil on canvas. Grekov War Artists' Studio / Balabanov / RIA NovostiReproduction of "Victory" painting by artist P. Krivonosov (1911-1967). Oil on canvas. Grekov War Artists' Studio / Balabanov / RIA Novosti

On analysis, the history of Russia is a history of constant war. Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin wrote: “Soloviev has counted 200 wars and invasions from 1240 until 1462 (period of 222 years). From the 14th to the 20th centuries (period of 525 years), Sukhotin counted 329 years of war. Russia has been fighting wars for two-thirds of its life.”

A similar idea was expressed by General Alexey Kuropatkin. In 1900, he wrote in his memorandum to Nicholas II:   “Over the past 200 years, Russia has been at war for 128 years and had only 72 years of peace. Of the 128 war years – 5 years we fought defensive wars and 123 years we were engaged in wars of conquest.”

First published in Russian by Russkaya Semyorka.

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