Russian Assault on Persia's Territorial Integrity: Tsarist Expansionism

  January 18, 2021   Read time 1 min
Russian Assault on Persia's Territorial Integrity: Tsarist Expansionism
Azerbaijan has always been a strategic integral part of Iran. The greater Azerbaijan is closely tied with the idea of the greater Iran. Tsarist Russia always sought to own the whole Azerbaijan region due to the richer resources that existed in the region. Many efforts were made and finally a major part of Iran was annexed to colonialist Russia.

Russian interest in Azerbaijan region was of long standing and had diverse motivation: the lure of the lucrative trade with Persia and Asiatic Turkey; the desire for local raw materials such as silk, cotton, and copper; the drive for the colonization of sparsely populated lands. But the overriding attraction was the strategic value of the Transcaucasian isthmus. Russia's military involvement here reached back to the time of Peter the Great, whose Persian Expedition of 1722 was aimed at extending the Russian presence in the direction of the Indian Ocean. The Russians had seized a strip of the Caspian coast down to Lenkoran, but their first venture into Azerbaijan ended in 1735 when Nadir Shah rolled back the frontier to the Terek River. Russia's southward advance resumed, on a more extensive scale, under Catherine II (1763-1796). After the seizure of the Crimea and the Kuban River territory in 1785, most of the Caucasus range fell under Russian administration. By that time Russia had already begun to plan an active role in the politics of the Transcaucasian states. Insecure on his throne, the Georgian king of Kakheti-Kartli, Irakli II, was the first to sign a treaty obtaining Russian protection in 1783. His example was followed by Solomon I of Imeretia and Murtazali, the Daghestani ruler of Tarku. In due course hegemony turned into outright conquest, the latter stage beginning in 1801 when Tsar Alexander I (1800-1825) proclaimed the creation of the Georgian guberniia (province) consisting of the lands of the former Kakheti-Kartli kings. The new province also included the sultanates of Kazakh and Shamshadil, the first of the Azerbaijani territories to the incorporated by Russia.