After Osterman's father had fallen into disgrace, he was transferred from the Imperial Guards to the regular army and then sent abroad, where he would continue his education. In 1757, Osterman was in the Russian service again. He held diplomatic posts in Paris and Stockholm, where he would exercise big influence on Gustav III of Sweden. In 1774, Osterman was appointed senator.
In 1783, he was appointed Minister of foreign affairs of Imperial Russia, but would play only a secondary role on this post. His closest associates - Count Bezborodko, Prince Zubov, Fyodor Rostopchin - were the ones with real power, but they lacked the fluency in languages and oleaginous manner of address which Osterman was famed for.
In 1796, Osterman was appointed the Chancellor of the Russian Empire, again as a puppet of real policy-makers. A year later, the new Emperor Paul dismissed him from office. Ivan Osterman spent the last years of his life in Moscow. As he had no children of his own, his title and last name were inherited by a nephew, the celebrated General Tolstoy.
- "Count Ostermann House". Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- Ostermanniana (website about Ostermann). (In Russian).
Nikita Ivanovich Panin
| Imperial Chancellor of Russia
1796 — 1797
Alexander Andreyevich Bezborodko
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