Russian Warriors in the Land of Miltiades and Themistocles: The Colonial Ambitions of Catherine the Great in the Mediterranean

17 Pages Posted: 14 May 2014

See all articles by Elena Smilyanskaya

Elena Smilyanskaya

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: May 13, 2014

Abstract

The Mediterranean policy of Catherine the Great gave rise to a discussion about how extreme her colonial ambitions in the Mediterranean were. This article argues against the theories that 'the Greek idea' was only a political game for Russia, that Russian activity on the Aegean islands was only military, and that the success of the Archipelago expedition (1769-1775) was primarily due to foreign support. It shows that Catherine II’s colonial ambitions were in fact rather limited compared to other powers of the period. Russia could not imagine having a colony in the eastern Mediterranean, but planned only a small military base surrounded by liberated self-governed Greek territories under the Catherine II’s protection. When the liberated Greek islands became an obstacle to enlarging Russian territory on the Black sea coast, however, they were exchanged, primarily for Crimea.

Keywords: Catherine the Great, Southern Mediterranean, Greek liberation, philhellenism, Archipelago principality of Catherine II, Russo-Turkish wars, foreign policy of Russia

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Smilyanskaya, Elena, Russian Warriors in the Land of Miltiades and Themistocles: The Colonial Ambitions of Catherine the Great in the Mediterranean (May 13, 2014). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 55/HUM/2014 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2436332 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2436332

Elena Smilyanskaya (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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