Pitted Against the Bear: Britain, Russia and Crimea

Britain and Russia came close to blows over Crimea in the 18th century.

'The Political Warrior Mowing Down the Russian Trade', a satire on Pitt's foreign policy from 1791. British MuseumThe British forces sent to the Black Sea during the Crimean and Russian civil wars would not have been the first had the government of William Pitt the Younger had its way in 1791. Benefiting from divisions among the Crimean Tatars, Catherine the Great had annexed Crimea eight years earlier, only for the Ottoman Sultan, the overlord of the Crimean khanate, to launch a war of reconquest in 1787. Repulsing the Turkish attack, the Russians went on to make major gains. Concerned about a threat to the balance of power, Britain, which had allied with Prussia in 1787, pressed Russia and its ally Austria to end the war without making territorial gains. Austria agreed, but Russia refused.

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