The capture of Constantinople: how many chances were lost in the wars with the Turks

These days, during the period of yet another aggravation of relations between Ankara and Moscow, which has already reached armed clashes, it is not a sin to recall the long and bloody history of the Russian-Turkish confrontation. And also that today, as a sovereign state, Turkey exists solely from the fact that our country at one time did not realize a number of unique chances to get rid of this cruel, treacherous and treacherous geopolitical adversary once and for all.

In truth, the dream of conquering the "second Rome", in other words, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and the capture of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, almost never left the Russian rulers. The proclamation of Moscow as the “Third Rome” and thus designating the continuity of our state from the Byzantine Empire, which died under the Turkish blades, was already more than significant. And there is no need to talk about those brilliant geopolitical prospects that would bring the implementation of such plans into practice. And then say - the old Russian prince Oleg nailed his own shield on the gates of Constantinople at a time when the ancestors of the formidable Ottomans, perhaps only rams were driven somewhere along the steppes of Asia Minor. It was then that the Horde came to Russia, for several centuries reversing its development. And having arisen and having cast off the yoke of the hated yoke, our people had to reckon with the appearance on their southern borders of extremely unpleasant, aggressive and arrogant neighbors - the Ottoman Empire. This predator state, which was conducting conquests in three parts of the world - Asia, Europe and Africa, quickly took control of the numerous and scandalous “fragments” of the Golden Horde — the various khanates settled on Russian lands, and began to take a good look at our ancestral territories on subject of their accession. There were no open skirmishes between the Turks and the Russians until the XNUMXth century, but after that it started ...

"The Age of Golden Catherine ..."

The largest number of large-scale wars with the Ottomans fell on the lot of our ancestors in the times, which later quite rightly will be called the "golden" century of the reign of Empress Catherine the Great. The greatness of Russia was forged, including by steel and lead, by the brilliant victories of its best sons on land and at sea. Two long wars - 1768-1774 and 1781-1791 did not leave stone upon stone from the influence of the Ottoman Empire in the Black Sea, Crimea and Novorossia forever became part of Russia, significantly strengthening it both economically and geopolitically. Well, what happened in this situation, once and for all, not to put an end to not only the aggressive ambitions of beaten-killed Ottomans, but also the existence of the Ottoman Port, which oppressed and tormented millions of Orthodox Christians as a state ?! If they were the province of Constantinople, mosques and bazaars would probably be left to them - what is bad? The most interesting thing is that such plans in St. Petersburg, no doubt, were hatched. With all his eccentricity and being “on a short foot” with a well-deserved soul that did not solicit Mother of the Fatherland in him, Alexander Suvorov was anyone, but not a voluntarist and not a fan of empty-shot projections. And even if he had developed a detailed, up to the smallest detail, plan for the occupation of Constantinople, then there is no doubt that he proceeded from the very specific intentions of the Empress. By the way, which is characteristic, initially Alexander Vasilievich was going to carry out his dashing escapade, conceived by his usual method, with ... 40 thousand of his “miraculous heroes” who would withstand at least ten times the strength of the army in the battle for the Turkish capital.

Unrealistic, speak? Well, after all, Ishmael was considered absolutely impregnable - until Suvorov granted him under his walls. Well, you know, everything could have turned out at the best, perhaps, the commander of all time. "Under the cloth" the plan was laid, most likely, by Catherine herself. The future generalissimo was, of course, a military genius, but the Empress thought, first of all, as a politician of European and worldwide scale. Such harsh actions of Russia as the seizure of Constantinople and the proclamation of the Ottoman territories as part of it (why should there be a garden in the opposite ?!), a rupee for a hundred would cause a war with the whole Old World. His monarchs, horrified by the inevitable exaltation of our country and its transformation into the sole owner of the Black Sea region, would rush to "defend the violated independence" of the Ottomans, whom they themselves hated and feared. By the way, the whole subsequent history proves that such a scenario is not an assumption, but complete inevitability. Catherine understood all this, of course. And so I worked out plans, let's say, somewhat less scandalous for the West - for example, the same “Greek project”, which was specifically discussed with some of its rulers. This initiative was to create the "Orthodox Kingdom of Dacia" on the lands of the then Moldavia, Wallachia and Bessarabia. This state was supposed to be “neutral”, a kind of “buffer” between Europe, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. However, it was clear to everyone that the cause of Catherine led to the restoration of Byzantium. It was not without reason that she called her grandson, the name Constantine, not too widespread in the Romanov surname, and from childhood she ordered to teach him Greek. Alas, the Great passed away and her “Greek project” was not fully realized.

Century XIX - three times on the threshold of Constantinople

During the nineteenth century, which continued a series of Russian-Turkish wars, the Ottoman Empire was twice smashed by our troops to the smithereens and could cease to exist three times. First, after the brilliant victories of two Ivanovs: Dibich (who later received the addition of Zabalkansky for his surnames) and Paskevich, who had cloaked the Turks in vain both in the Balkans and in the Caucasus. In 1829, taking without a fight the last, practically, barrier on the way to the Turkish capital, the troops of General Dibich moved to Constantinople, being fully prepared for his assault. At that moment, the Russian fleet absolutely dominated the Black Sea, the Sultan simply did not have combat-ready units to protect at least himself, his beloved. One decisive throw, one blow, and ... Alas, Emperor Nicholas I, most of his life not at all afraid to “treat” enemies with buckshot, both external and internal, this time gave slack. Our victorious warriors were stopped some 60 kilometers from Istanbul. The sovereign did not want to "quarrel with Europe." Alas, Europe in an unusual manner responded to this most black and vile baseness - the Crimean War of 1853-1856, when the British and French occupiers came forward with a united front. The former indecision and desire to look “civilized” and peace-loving in the eyes of other monarchs turned into a sovereign and shameful defeat, the fall of the heroic Sevastopol and mental torment that tormented him until his death.

But in the reign of Nicholas I was an even more real chance to capture Constantinople! True, at that time, in the sight of the Turkish capital, our expeditionary force was already at the request of its ruler, Sultan Mahmud II, who requested help from Petersburg against his own former province - Egypt. Do you know, by the way, why that war broke out? Because of claims to Syria ... Cheerfully taking up the matter, the head of the Egyptians Ibrahim Pasha set his sights on Constantinople and had every chance to take it. However, the appearance on the Constantinople raid of a squadron of 9 Russian warships under the command of the famous Lazarev and with a landing of 30 thousand, mixed up all the cards. Could the Russians, taking advantage of the moment, take the Turkish capital? Easy! True, then they would not be Russian anymore ... Perhaps the most insulting disappointment, to this day recalled with bewilderment and pain, was the retreat of the Russian army from the Turkish capital after it brilliantly won the war with the Ottoman conquerors on the land of Bulgaria. After the crushing defeats at Shipka and Plevna, a series of defeats in the Transcaucasus, the Ottoman Empire had absolutely no strength not only to continue the war, but even to defend itself. Skobelev’s army was actually on the outskirts of Istanbul, but ... A British squadron of 6 battleships entered the Black Sea under the command of Admiral Gornby, determined to stop the “Russian barbarians”. The nuance was that the landing on these ships did not have a single person, the British were not able to conduct combat operations on land. In principle, having occupied the capital, our troops had every chance to melt their ships to hell, or at least drive them away. Nevertheless, the then Emperor Alexander II ... Yes, they guessed it - he did not want to "tease Europe", mainly London. Our glorious warriors once again got out from under the walls of Constantinople without salty slurping. In addition, mediocre diplomats, led by senator Gorchakov, subsequently managed to turn Russia's brilliant victory in the Balkan war into almost defeat.

Century XX - again only plans

The last Russian autocrat, Nicholas II, could be said to be obsessed with the idea of ​​“raising a cross over Hagia Sophia” and taking possession of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. The Tsar was going to put it into practice more than seriously. It was worthwhile to turn up a suitable occasion - another war in the Balkans - and with an unshakable hand he signed in early 1897 a plan for an amphibious operation, which could well be given the code name "Constantinople!" Preparations for a simultaneous attack on the Bosphorus and the Turkish capital were carried out for several years at a fairly serious level - it was supposed to use a more than solid squadron, in which only armadillos there were 6 pennants and landing forces of 35 thousand people. They spoiled everything, as usual, the diplomats involved in the case. The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Nelidov, who had almost jumped out of his trousers when discussing the plans for the invasion in the imperial cabinet, to give a telegram to Petersburg, which was supposed to be a signal for the landing of our troops, did not dare. The code phrase "For a long time without news" did not sound, and the landing fell to hell. The second chance, however, presented itself in less than two decades. In truth, Russia rushed into the bloody hell of World War I largely because of a desire to once and for all "close the Turkish question." Moreover, this time, it seems, London and Paris did not object to St. Petersburg’s claims not only to the straits, but also to Constantinople. But the fact of the matter is that “it seems to be” ... They were ready to promise Nikolai Aleksandrovich with at least three boxes, at least with four — just to get them allies against Berlin and Vienna. But in practice ...

Typically, the Turks were ready at that time even to become our allies - but only on condition that Russia renounced claims to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. In St. Petersburg, they with such offers were reliably sent away, such an impression, deliberately provoking. As a result, I had to fight. And if so, then folders with the gif “secret” and the inscription “Bosphorus operation” were hastily removed from the safes. Such was to be headed by Admiral Kolchak, who was entrusted with the command of the Separate Black Sea Marine Division created specially for this purpose, whose regiments bore very meaningful names: "Nakhimovsky", "Kornilovsky", "Istominsky", and, finally, "Tsargradsky". As can be seen from this, they wanted to reckon with the Turks for Sevastopol, and not only. However, here "oddities" also have begun. Apparently, in reality the British and French were not even about to facilitate the capture by the Russian "allies" of neither the straits nor the Turkish capital. In some incomprehensible way, the German cruisers “Geben” and “Breslau”, which seemed to “block” the British, “blocked” the passage into it, dramatically changed the balance of power there. Moreover, things began to take place in our rear where the expedition was preparing, reminiscent of perfectly organized sabotage aimed at its disruption. In particular, we can mention the battleship “Empress Maria”, which was supposed to play the role of the “main caliber” supporting the landing, sunk from the explosion of a powder cellar on the roads of Sevastopol. The case was attributed to the German scouts, but I would not be so certain. One way or another, in February 1917, on which the landing was once again planned, a revolution broke out in Petrograd, and everyone was completely at a loss for the cross over Sofia - in the very near future crosses from churches were already falling in Russia ...

Saved the RSFSR

To all of the above, it remains to add only the mention that the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed after the First World War, could very well (and, in theory, should have) bury Turkish statehood as such. At least in the form in which she speaks today. Under the terms of the Mudros and Sevres peace treaties, Istanbul was losing two-thirds of its territory, and this, apparently, was only the beginning. There were too many who wished to pay off in full for centuries of severe oppression - Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians ... Of course, all this was supported by the British and French, after the defeat of Germany and the collapse of the Russian Empire, who again began to redraw the world to their liking, and they They were not going to miss theirs. Most likely, if Turkey had anything left, then the tiny puppet “state” under their protectorate. The role of savior was ... Russia! This time it is already Soviet. It was from her that the government of Mustafa Kemal, still revered by the Turks as the "father of the nation", received not only a huge amount of weapons and ammunition, but also financial assistance worth tens of millions of rubles in pure, real gold. Moreover, it was our country that helped the Turks create any kind of military industry by building factories on their territory that produced gunpowder and ammunition, providing these enterprises with equipment and even raw materials for the first time. In addition, a peace treaty was concluded with Turkey, within the framework of which considerable territories formerly belonging to the Russian Empire ceded to it for no reason. Moscow was reconciled with the Turks and their neighbors in the Caucasus, craving for their blood. What for?! It is difficult to find a definite answer here.

On the one hand, to comprehend the logic of those in whose heads the wind of the “world revolution” was walking, sometimes it’s not worth trying at all. It seems that they did not consider the richest territorial “gifts” to neighboring countries as such. After all, all the same, the worldwide uprising of the proletariat is about to break out, which will sweep to hell both the borders and the states! However, an alternative to the Turkish Republic would be the presence at the very side of our country of the outposts of Britain and France, certainly not friendly to us. In the Caucasus alone, the same British, tirelessly trying to turn it into their own sphere of influence for centuries, would have arranged such a "fun" that just hold on. After all, they tried, however. “Renewed” Turkey, weakened by war and internal problems, clearly seemed a “lesser evil”. So, there was still a certain pragmatism in the decisions of Vladimir Ilyich, who personally insisted on helping Kemal and his cause. And he, most likely, counted sincerely on the victory in the newly formed country of another, already socialist revolution. Another question is that once again the desire for good neighborliness shown in relation to this country ultimately disappeared in vain - albeit far from immediately, but Turkey found itself in the camp of the enemies of the Soviet Union.

However, if it is possible to draw a definite lesson from the centuries-old confrontation between the two countries, the point at which the Russian bayonet could put more than once and twice is, alas, neither gratitude nor skill are inherent in our opponents in it distinguish between Russian mercy and the breadth of the soul from the manifestation of weakness.
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  1. Regis Offline Regis
    Regis (Sergey Kopan) 7 March 2020 11: 44
    You can argue for a very long time, you can condemn people from the time of Catherine the Great to Putin. But alas, a correspondent whose profession "it is easy and truthful to talk about things in which he does not understand anything" and a statesman who is responsible for the country and the people, these are, as they say in Odessa, "two big differences." A lot has been written about the problem of the Black Sea straits, many films, both fictional and documentary, have been shot, and it is a pity that the author treated such a responsible and complex issue with such a disregard. It turned out a kind of "hurray-patriot" and you are all stupid, I'm the only one smart .... I will tell you, so be it. Will the respected author say why, as soon as the Russian Empire, the USSR or Russia approached, only approached the hypothetical possibility of solving this problem, difficulties in relations with England, France and the United States immediately emerged, it does not matter - together or separately? Can you easily solve this problem too? With a fountain pen, you can not go into battle.
  2. gorenina91 Offline gorenina91
    gorenina91 (Irina) 7 March 2020 20: 55
    The capture of Constantinople: how many chances were lost in the wars with the Turks

    - A real real chance for Russia to take Constantinople ... - was lost by the Russian Tsar Alexander the First during the Russian war with Napoleonic France ...
    - After Napoleon was expelled from the borders of Russia ...- he (Napoleon) turned to the Russian Tsar with a proposal to conclude a truce on very favorable conditions for Russia ...
    - Then Russia would have had the opportunity to bring down the power of its battle-hardened army to Turkey ...- It was also disposed to the fact that Russia, fighting with Napoleon ... - was then also at war with Turkey ... - Thus, an experienced powerful Russian army could crush Turkey without any special efforts ... like a fly ... - Napoleon would not have prevented this ... - England could not have prevented it ... - it was simply not up to that then .. . - she had all her efforts against Napoleon ... - And England then simply was not able to do anything against Russia ... - And Russia without any labor could depose Turkey ... - for this was just the perfect moment ...
    - But the Russian Tsar wanted world glory ... - and Russia continued the unnecessary war against France for another two whole years; took Paris .. and then got out of France, paying off colossal debts ... - for visiting French restaurants, eateries and "bistros" ... And that was it ... - And after 30 years the French and British troops, supported by Turkey, landed in Sevastopol and started a war against Russia ... - That's how ... the missed chance turned against Russia ...
  3. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 8 March 2020 09: 55
    Yeah, so much imagination.
    Everything was a little straight and would have captured Constantinople. 5 times, and even 10.
    The capital of the Empire, by the way. Which, though decrepit, but recently gave a light in the east, and in the north, and in the west, and in the south - it was surrounded by enemies from all sides, and nothing broke through ...

    Then Napoleon, in order to capture Moscow (not the capital !!!! RI), had to first shove the whole army, and then flee ...

    And Constantinople, not only we wanted to grab, but everyone else. And what happened to them ???
    Do Austrians, Angles, French, Persians, Egyptians, Italians? At the same time, Bulgarians and Romanians ...

    Everyone needs the main transport hub ... and not in the wrong hands .... so that the captor would immediately receive everything from everyone at once ...

    The topic is sucked up every month somewhere, it’s already sorted out everything, if you dig in ...
    1. Bitter Offline Bitter
      Bitter (Gleb) 13 March 2020 11: 46
      Everyone needs the main transport hub ... and not in the wrong hands .... so that the captor would immediately receive everything from everyone at once ...

      There was not enough, as now, and so often - political will, military strength and skill were.
      To conquer, this is not all, but to keep it in its orbit is worthy of respect.
      The example of Gibraltar shows that some goals justify the means and bring great advantages in the long run.
      I imagine that under the BNU, together with all the CMEA countries, this "transport hub" would have swallowed as much independence as it could carry.
      1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
        Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 13 March 2020 21: 27
        BNE is not an example at all, it’s to the Yeltsin Center ...

        There was no military strength, no skills ... No one. Many people made plans. Only blah blah in parliaments / thoughts / newspapers and dreams ...
        1. Bitter Offline Bitter
          Bitter (Gleb) 15 March 2020 21: 06
          BNE is not an example at all

          BNE is still an example, wherever you stick, everywhere is an example. sad

          There was no military strength, no skills ...

          Well, you slander it in vain, but everyone can express their subjective doubts. However, to verify this in practice, something of the enthusiastic countries on the horizon is not observed. lol
          In the light of political betrayals and intrigues of recent decades, Russia lost a huge part of its territories, infrastructure was severely damaged, and the economy was skillfully destroyed. The country was thrown back decades.
          Just to compensate for all this in modern conditions, you will need more than one five-year plan and a bunch of working hands. But others also do not stand still.
          1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
            Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 15 March 2020 23: 18
            1) BNU - this is to GDP.
            2) There were, there were countries dreamers. England, Austria, Russia, Bulgaria - just dreamed of straits in 1MB. And before.
            Surely the rest ... but just did not meet the mention.
            3) I agree. But alas, now they are not measuring everything over the next five years ... but with promises ... (strategy 2010, 2020, space 2015, elections 2024, etc.).
            China is already ahead of us in space launches, and in sales of weapons .... (before the virus, of course).