Business News Russia - Page 11

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Kurgan hypothesis: South Russia as the urheimat of Indo-European peoples.

by pro-Prussian Peter III of Russia.

Catherine II (Catherine the Great), who ruled from 1762 to 1796, continued the efforts to establish Russia as one of the Great Powers of Europe. She extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and incorporated most of the Commonwealth territories into Russia during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe.

In the south, after successful Russo-Turkish Wars against the Ottoman Empire, Cathrine advanced Russia's boundary to the Black Sea, defeating the Crimean khanate. As a result of victories over the Ottomans, by the early 19th century Russia also had made significant territorial gains in Transcaucasia. This continued with Alexander I's (1801–1825) wresting of Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in 1809 and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812.

At the same time, in the second half of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th, Russians colonised Alaska and even founded some settlements in California, like Fort Ross. In 1803–1806 the first Russian circumnavigation was made, followed during the 19th century by the other notable Russian sea exploration voyages. In 1820 the Russian expedition discovered the Antarctic continent.

In several coalition alliances with various European countries, Russia fought against Napoleon's France. Napoleon's invasion of Russia at the height of his power in 1812 failed miserably as the obstinate Russian resistance in combination with the bitterly cold Russian

winter dealt him a disastrous defeat, in which more than 95% of his invading force perished. Led by Mikhail Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly, the Russian army ousted Napoleon from the country and drove through Europe as a part of the Sixth Coalition, finally entering Paris.

Tsar Alexander I headed Russia's delegation at the Congress of Vienna that defined the map of post-Napoleonic Europe. The officers of the Napoleonic Wars brought ideas of liberalism back to Russia with them and even attempted to curtail the tsar's powers during the abortive Decembrist revolt of 1825, which was followed by several decades of political repression.

The prevalence of serfdom and the conservative policies of Nicolas I (1825–1855) impeded the development of Russia in the mid-nineteenth century, when a zenith period of Russia's power and