But the war (see Crimea, war of), which, on the other hand, ended only under his successor Alexander II – Nicholas I died on March 2, 1855 -, had instead to constitute a new and more serious setback for the Russian empire.. With the Treaty of Paris (March 1856) Russia had to renounce the protectorate over the Danubian principalities; the Black Sea was declared neutral, which meant it was impossible for Russia to keep a war fleet there; navigation on the Danube was declared free, and subjected to the control of an international commission; finally, the calusoles of the treaties of Kücük Kainarge and Adrianople, relating to the Russian protectorate over the Christians living in the Turkish empire, were suppressed. Territorially, Russia regained Sevastopol, but had to demote to the Kars Turks.
According to Holidaysort, the foreign policy of Russia from the reign of Alexander II to the world war. – The failure suffered by Russia in the Crimean war and the momentary arrest of its expansion policy towards the Straits and the Aegean, determine, in the period following the Paris Peace of 1856, a shift in the center of gravity of Russian foreign policy towards Asia.
Thus we begin to verify now that pendulum movement – one could say – that characterized Russian politics up to the outbreak of the world war: a movement that consisted in concentrating the effort now towards the Balkans, now towards Central Asia and the Far East. East, alternately.
In the fifteen years following the Crimean War, the effort in Asia has been crowned with full success. In Central Asia, between 1858 and 1868, Russian dominion extended over the whole of Turkestan: the Muslim Khānati of Ferghana and Bukhara were occupied and thus the Syr-Darja valley was occupied. And since at the same time the subjugation of the khānate of Chiva was carried out, on the left bank of the Amu-Darja, the whole region from the Caspian to the Pamir, on the northern frontier of Persia, Afghānistān and India, came under Russian domination, while Russian interventions in Afghānistān internal affairs seemed to herald an even further march forward: a great threat to the British domination of India, immediate response to anti-Russian action carried out by the London government in 1853-1856; this expansion of the Muscovite power in central Asia, which the English were trying to face, reorganizing and fortifying northern India, was to constitute, from then and up to the first decade of the century. XX, the fundamental reason for the serious contrast between London and Petersburg.
No less remarkable is the Russian progress in North Asia and the Far East. With a work of continuous and skilful penetration, they managed in a few years to obtain from China first of all the definitive cession of the regions located on the left bank of the Amur (treaty of Aïgouen, May 16, 1858), then the regions of the Ussuri river and the Pacific coast from the mouth of the Amur to what was later the port of Vladivostok. In this way, Russia opened the way to Manchuria and entered the race, hitherto restricted to the French and the English, for dominance over the Chinese empire.
And if in 1867 it ceded to the United States, for the sum of 7,000,000 dollars, the peninsula of Alaska, the almost simultaneous purchase of the island of Sakhalin (agreements with China of 1858 and 1860; agreement with Japan of 1876) gave it greater control of the Asian coast.
But after 1870, Russian politics was again attracted to Europe. The situation created on the continent by the Franco-Prussian war and the rise, in immediate contact with the Russian western frontier, of a very powerful empire like the Germanic one, which then, since 1872, was firmly close to Austria, forced Russian politicians to follow with extreme attention the European political game; and although some acts, such as the meeting of the three emperors of Austria, Germany and Russia, in Berlin in September 1872 and the visits between the monarchs in 1873, could give the illusion of complete agreement between the three powers, in reality Russia – especially Chancellor Gorčakov – suspicious of excessive Germanic power, was beginning to play a
Then in 1875 a situation arose which would have again channeled all the Russian forces towards the Balkans, as it had been twenty years earlier. The “question of the East” was in fact reopened following the revolt of Bosnia and Herzegovina and then of Bulgaria against Turkish domination and the entry into war, against Turkey, of Serbia and Montenegro. The Russian government, which already, taking advantage of the Franco-Prussian war, had declared itself dissolved (October 31, 1870) from the bonds established in the peace of Paris of 1856 which forbade the Russian fleet the neutralized Black Sea, and which had made its decision recognized in the London conference of January-March 1871, he thus saw the opportunity to reopen the way to the Straits. And he was also driven by the pressure of
The Russian government therefore began by proposing to the Austrian government, from August 1875, a joint intervention with the sultan, to invite him to just reforms in his dominions; then, after the Bulgarian massacres, he ordered the sultan (October 1876) to cease the war and the persecutions; finally, in April 1877, military operations in the Balkans began, after having secured the green light from Austria, with the convention of January 15, 1877 which guaranteed Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austria.