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Winning these 5 epic wars determined the fate of Russia

From the middle ages to the twentieth century, Russians have waged battle after battle to secure their nation



(by Boris Egorov – RBTH) – During its long history, Russia has waged countless wars and conflicts, quite often victoriously. But if some of its victories are consigned to oblivion, the fruits of others still impact on the present.

Struggle against Mamai (1374-1380)

Mikhail Avilov, Duel on the Kulikovo field (1943)

Since the middle of the 13th century the various Russian principalities had been politically and economically dependent on the Golden Horde. In the late 14th century the strengthened Moscow Principality tried to throw off the power of the khans.

Following the assassination of Khan Berdi Beg (Berdibek) in 1359, the Golden Horde descended into the chaos of internecine wars for the throne, known as the “Great Troubles.”

The Russian principalities were forced to deal with Mamai, one of the major Mongol generals. He was not among the descendants of Genghis Khan, and thus didn’t have a right to rule the Golden Horde. Putting a puppet khan Bulak on the throne, Mamai in fact usurped power.

In 1374, Prince of Moscow Dmitry Ivanovich (later – Donskoy) refused to pay tribute to the Mongols, which was followed by a series of clashes. After defeat in the battle on the Pyana River in 1377, Russian troops crushed the Mongols at the Battle of the Vozha River the next year – the first serious Russian victory over the Golden Horde.

The Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 became the culmination of the war. Mamai’s troops suffered a stunning defeat. He could no longer hold on to power in the Golden Horde and lost it to Tokhtamysh, a descendent of Genghis Khan and the new ruler of the Mongol state.

The Battle of Kulikovo didn’t liberate the Russian principalities from the power of the Mongols. Tokhtamysh restored it by burning Moscow in 1382. Russia was finally liberated from the Mongols only 100 years later, after the “Great Stand” on the Ugra River in 1480.

Still, the importance of the victory in the Battle of Kulikovo was great. The authority and military prestige of Mongols were seriously damaged. They never restored their influence over the Russians as it had been before.

The battle determined the future face of the Russian state, since the Moscow Principality irreversibly established itself as the political center of unification of the Russian principalities.

Great Northern War (1700-1721)

Maurice Baquoy. The Battle of Gangut (1724—1727)

This war became one of the most important in Russian history, as it marked  Russia’s rebirth as an empire.

For years the Russian state had tried to seize Livonia and Estonia and secure access to the Baltic Sea. The last major attempt was made by Ivan IV, but ended in catastrophe when the Tsardom of Muscovy was defeated by two enemies: Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In light of this bitter experience, Peter the Great prepared for the next war more thoroughly. The Northern Alliance between Russia, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Denmark and Saxony planned to crush the hegemon of Eastern and Northern Europe – the Swedish Kingdom.

However, after the Swedish King Karl XII defeated all members of the Northern Alliance, Russia faced the strong Swedish army alone. The Battle of Narva in 1701 was a disaster for the Russian army and forced Peter the Great to undertake deep military reforms.

The Russian Tsar was persistent in reaching his main goal – to carve a “window to Europe”. He founded the future capital of Russia, St .Petersburg, in 1703 on land just seized from the Swedes,, and finally defeated Sweden with his modernized army in the Battle of Poltava (1709).  1714 saw the naval Battle of Gangut (1714), the first important victory of the Russian fleet in its history.

After the Treaty of Nystad was concluded in 1721, Russia acquired the vast territories of Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia. The newly proclaimed Russian Empire began to play an active role in European politics.

Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)

Ivan Aivazovsky. Battle of Chesma (1846)

The war that pitted Catherine II of Russia against the Ottoman Empire is considered as one of the most important among the numerous Russo-Turkish conflicts. It also showed the world several outstanding Russian commanders.

At the Battle of Kagul in 1770, one of the largest battles in the 18th century, the Russian army of nearly 40,000 men under the command of Pyotr Rumyantsev defeated the Ottoman army of 150,000 men.

Legendary warlord Alexandr Suvorov, having 5000 soldiers, was able to overpower the Ottoman army five times larger in one of the most decisive clashes of the war – the Battle of Kozludzha in 1774.

Glorious victories occurred not only on land, but at sea as well. During the naval Battle of Chesma in 1770, most of the Ottoman fleet was decimated.

The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) allowed the Russian Empire to gain a foothold on the Black Sea coast: it secured the Crimean cities of Kerch and Yeni-Kale, and the right to base a military fleet in the Black Sea, as well as the right of patronage over Christians in the Ottoman vassal principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.

According to the terms of peace, the Crimean Khanate was granted independence from the Ottoman Empire. In fact, it fell under the mighty influence of Russia and was finally annexed thereby in 1783. It is worth mentioning that the territory of the Khanate included not just the peninsula, but also vast territories on the coast of the Azov and Black Seas.

In general, the war allowed Russia to significantly advance southwards, as the Ottoman Empire started to decline.

French Invasion of Russia and War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814)

 Unknown author. Russian army enters Paris in 1814.

After the Russian Empire was crushed by Napoleon in the War of the Fourth coalition in 1807, it was forced to join the Continental Blockade of Great Britain, which hurt Russia’s economy.

The terms imposed were considered humiliating by the Russian leadership. And soon it ceased to abide by them. War became inevitable, and happened in 1812 with the invasion of the Grande Armée.

Perfectly aware of the military genius of Napoleon, the Russian commanders refused to give him the full-scale battle he so much desired.

A major battle took place only on the outskirts of Moscow, at Borodino, with no side having an advantage.

The occupation of the Russian capital gave nothing to the French Emperor. He was forced to leave it, failing to conclude a peace or truce with the Russian Emperor Alexander I.

The retreat of the Grande Armée was a disaster. The harsh cold, active guerrilla war, and the Russian army’s incessant pursuit totally destroyed it. Out of 680,000 men, almost 90% were killed, imprisoned, lost or deserted.

The foreign campaign of the Russian army ended with the capture of Paris in 1814 and abdication of Napoleon.

Victory over Napoleon raised Russia’s standing in the world. The Russian Empire achieved what others hadn’t been able to for well over a decade – crush the undefeated French genius.


 Victory Banner over the Reichstag. Berlin. 1945

Although the Soviet Army had begun to receive modern military equipment  before the war, there was a huge lack of capable commanders as many high rank officers had been executed during the Great Purge in the late 1930s.

The catastrophe of the early years of the war raised a question mark over the very existence of the Soviet Union.

The consolidation and nationwide acceptance of Soviet power,, large-scale guerrilla war, and a new wave of talented commanders turned defeat into victory. The price paid by the Soviet folk was stomach-churning – over 27 million dead.

Besides the eradication of Nazism, WWII greatly enhanced the geopolitical status of the USSR. Soviet-friendly regimes were established in the newly liberated Eastern Europe.

The Soviet Union became one of two global superpowers, a military and industrial giant that was able to launch the first artificial satellite into space just 12 years after the devastating war was over.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran



Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:

If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan



Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:

“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch



Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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