Russo-Persian War (1826–28)
|Russo-Persian War (1826–28)|
|Part of the Russo-Persian Wars|
The Battle of Elisabethpol on 13 September 1826
|Russian Empire||Persian Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Aleksey Yermolov
| Fath 'Ali Shah
After the Treaty of Gulistan concluded the previous Russo-Persian War in 1813, peace reigned in the Caucasus for thirteen years. However, Fath 'Ali Shah, constantly in need of foreign subsidies, relied on the advice of British agents, who pressed him to reconquer the territories lost to Russia and pledged their support to military action. The matter was decided upon in spring 1826, when a bellicose party of Abbas Mirza prevailed in Tehran and the Russian minister, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Menshikov, was placed under house arrest.
Campaign of 1826
In May 1826, Mirak[disambiguation needed] was occupied by Russian troops, against the wishes of Czar Nicholas I. In response, the Persian government sent Mirza Mohammad Sadiq to St. Petersburg in an attempt to discuss the issue. However, Caucasus General Governor Aleksey Yermolov had Sadiq detained at Tiflis.
On 28 July 1826, a 35,000-strong Persian army led by Abbas Mirza, crossed the border and invaded the Khanates of Talysh and Karabakh. The Khans quickly switched sides and surrendered their principal cities—Lenkoran, Quba, and Baku—to the Persians. General Ivan Paskevich, Yermolov's subordinate, stated that his commanding officer's actions had started this war.
Yermolov, feeling that he did not have sufficient resources to counter the invasion, refused to commit Russian troops to battle and ordered Ganja, the most populous city in the Southern Caucasus, to be abandoned. In Shusha, a small Russian garrison managed to hold out until 5 September when General Valerian Madatov's reinforcement arrived to their relief.
Madatov routed the Persians on the banks of the Shamkhor River and retook Ganja on 5 September. On hearing the news, Abbas Mirza lifted his siege of Shusha and marched towards Ganja. A new Russian reinforcement under Paskevich (who had replaced Yermolov) arrived just in time to join their forces with Madatov and to form an 8,000-strong corps under Paskevich's supreme command. Near Ganja they fell upon the Persians and forced them to retreat across the Araks River back to Persia. The attack was repulsed but the war was to continue for a year and a half.
Campaign of 1827
The onset of winter weather led to the suspension of hostilities until May 1827, when Paskevich advanced towards Erivan, taking Echmiadzin, Nakhichevan and Abbasabad on his way. The principal war theatre was now Eastern Armenia, whose capital, Erivan, was stormed and captured by Paskevich after six days of siege (October 1). Fourteen days later, General Eristov entered Tabriz, forcing the Shah to sue for peace.
The outbreak of the new Russo-Turkish War revived Persian hopes and hindered peace negotiations, which were conducted by Aleksandr Griboyedov, among others. In January 1828 a Russian detachment reached the shores of Lake Urmia and the Shah started to panic. On his urging, Abbas Mirza speedily signed the Treaty of Turkmenchay (February 2, 1828) which concluded the war.
According to the terms of the treaty, the Khanates of Erivan and Nakhichevan passed to Russia, encompassing modern day Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Shah promised to pay an indemnity of 20,000,000 silver roubles and allowed his Armenian subjects to migrate to Russian territory without any hindrance. More importantly, the Shah granted the Russians the exclusive right to maintain a navy in the Caspian and agreed that Russian merchants were free to trade anywhere they wanted in Persia.
In the short term, the treaty undermined the dominant position of the British Empire in Persia and marked a new stage in the Great Game between the empires. In the long term, the treaty ensured the dependence of the Caucasus on Russia, thus making possible the eventual emergence of the modern states of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the territories conquered from Persia during the war.
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- William Edward David Allen and Paul Muratoff, Caucasian Battlefields: A History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucasian Border 1828-1921, (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 20.
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