Territorial evolution of Russia

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Expansion of Russia (1300-1945)

Territorial changes of Russia happened by means of military conquest and by ideological and political unions in the course of over five centuries (1533 – present).

Russian Tsardom and Empire[edit]

Territorial development of the Muscovy between 1390 and 1533

The name Russia for the Grand Duchy of Moscow started to appear in the late 15th century and had become common in 1547 when the Tsardom of Russia was created.
For the history of Rus' and Moscovy before 1547 : see Kievan Rus' and Grand Duchy of Moscow.

An other important starting point was the official end in 1480 of the overlordship of the Tatar Golden Horde over Moscovy, after its defeat in the Great standing on the Ugra river. Ivan III (reigned 1462-1505) and Vasili III (reigned 1505-1533) had already expanded Muscovy's (1283–1547) borders considerably by annexing the Novgorod Republic (1478), the Grand Duchy of Tver in 1485, the Pskov Republic in 1510, the Appanage of Volokolamsk in 1513, and the principalities of Ryazan in 1521 and Novgorod-Seversky in 1522.

After a period of political instability the Romanovs came to power (1613) and the expansion-colonization process of the Tsardom continued.

While western Europe colonized the new world, the Tsardom of Russia expanded overland - principally to the east, north and south.

This continued for centuries; by the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire reached from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and for some time included colonies in the Americas (1732-1867) and a short-lived unofficial colony in Africa (1889) in present-day Djibouti.

Table of changes[edit]

Year Tsar Territory taken Taken from Background Map
1552 Ivan the Terrible Khanate of Kazan Khanate of Kazan Russo-Kazan Wars Location of Kazan
1556 Ivan the Terrible Khanate of Astrakhan Khanate of Astrakhan Russian control of the Volga trade route Location of Astrakhan
1598 Feodor I of Russia Khanate of Sibir Khanate of Sibir Conquest of the Khanate of Sibir Khanate of Sibir
1582 - late 18th century gradual Siberia indigenous people Russian conquest of Siberia Russian settlements in Asia in 16th and 17th century
1667 Alexis of Russia Smolensk, Left-bank Ukraine, Kiev (temporary), Zaprozhia (condominium with Poland) Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Russo-Polish War (1654–1667) Truce of Andrusovo 1667
1681 Feodor III of Russia Qasim Khanate Qasim Khanate Death of Queen Fatima Soltan Location of Qasim Khanate
1686 Peter the Great Gain of Kiev and Zaporizhia are permanent Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Union with Poland against Ottoman Empire (Great Turkish War) Union with Poland against Turkey
1721 Peter the Great Livonia, Estonia, Ingria, and Karelia Sweden Great Northern War Treaty of Nystad
1743 Elizabeth of Russia South-West Karelia Sweden Russo-Swedish War (1741–43) Treaty of Åbo
1771 Catherine the Great Kalmyk Khanate Kalmyk Khanate exodus of the Kalmyks to Dzungaria Location of Kalmyk Khanate
1772 Catherine the Great Inflanty Voivodeship and Eastern Belarus Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth First Partition of Poland Polish Partition
1774 Catherine the Great Southern Bug and Karbadino Ottoman Empire Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) Crimean Khanate (in yellow)
1783 Catherine the Great Crimean Khanate Ottoman Empire Annexation of the vassal state Crimean Khanate (in yellow)
1792 Catherine the Great Yedisan Ottoman Empire Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792) Location of Yedisan
1793 Catherine the Great Right-bank Ukraine and Belarus Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Second Partition of Poland Polish Partition
1795 Catherine the Great Western Galicia and Southern Masovia Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Third Partition of Poland Polish Partition
1799 Paul I of Russia Alaska indigenous people Russian America Russian Alaska in 1860
1801 Alexander I of Russia Eastern-Georgia Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti Annexation of Georgia Eastern Georgia
1809 Alexander I of Russia Grand Duchy of Finland Sweden Finnish War Grand Duchy of Finland
1810 Alexander I of Russia Western-Georgia Kingdom of Imereti Annexation of Georgia
1812 Alexander I of Russia Bessarabia (Moldova) Ottoman Empire Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812) Location of Bessarbia
1813 Alexander I of Russia Duchy of Warsaw France Napoleonic Wars Duchy of Warsaw
1813 Alexander I of Russia Georgia, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, and parts of northern Armenia Persia Russo-Persian War (1804–13) Losses by Persia
1828 Nicholas I of Russia Igdir Province, Azerbaijan, and Armenia Persia Russo-Persian War (1826–28) Losses by Persia
1858 Alexander II of Russia North of the Amur River Qing Empire (China) Second Opium War Convention of Peking
1860 Alexander II of Russia East of the Ussuri River Qing Empire (China) Second Opium War Convention of Peking
1730-1863 gradual Kazakhstan Lesser Horde, Middle Horde, Great Horde Incorporation of the Kazakh Khanate Kazakhstan
1866 Alexander II of Russia Uzbekistan Emirate of Bukhara Russian conquest of Bukhara conquest of Uzbekistan
1867 Alexander II of Russia Loss of Alaska United States of America Alaska Purchase Russian Alaska in 1860
1873 Alexander II of Russia North-Turkmenistan Khanate of Khiva Khivan campaign of 1873 conquest of Turkmenistan
1875 Alexander II of Russia Sakhalin Japan border settlement with Japan Sakhalin and Kuril islands
1876 Alexander II of Russia Kyrgyzstan and West-Tajikistan Khanate of Kokand Annexation of the vassal state conquest of Kokand
1878 Alexander II of Russia Kars Oblast and Batum Oblast Ottoman Empire Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) Kars and Batumi
1885 Alexander III of Russia South-Turkmenistan Turkmens Turkmen campaign
Territorial evolution of Russia is located in Turkmenistan
Krasno vodsk
Chik ishlyar
Geok Tepe
Geok Tepe
Kazil- Arvat
Territorial evolution of Russia
Turkmen campaign of 1880-85
* Blue=Russian fort; Yellow=Khanate of Khiva.
1893 Alexander III of Russia East-Tajikistan sparsely populated Exploration of the Pamir plateau Pamir region
1905 Nicholas II of Russia Loss of South-Sakhalin Empire of Japan Russo-Japanese War South Sakhalin

Soviet Union[edit]

After the October Revolution, Poland and Finland became independent from Russia and stayed so until modern times. Russia proper had become "Soviet Russia" and eventually the Russian Federation. Its territory varied greatly during the Russian Civil War. Eventually most of the former lands of the Russian Empire were consolidated into the Soviet Union.

After World War II the Soviet Union annexed Karelia from Finland, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad Oblast) from Germany, the Kuril Islands and southern Sakhalin from Japan, Tuva (previously governed by Mongolia and Manchu Empire), West Belarus and West Ukraine from Second Polish Republic

Territories of the former Russian Empire that permanently or temporarily became independent:

Modern Russia[edit]

The dissolution of the Soviet Union have led to the creation of independent post-Soviet states, with Russian SFSR becoming Russian Federation. Territorial disputes of the Russian Federation involve both post-Soviet states and other neighbors.

The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was an unrecognized secessionist government of the Chechen Republic during 1991–2000, which fought two wars against Russia until the government was exiled in 2000.

In 2014, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation.

See also[edit]


  • Iavorsky, M. Ukraina v epokhu kapitalizmu Kiev: Derzhavne Vydavnytstvo Ukrainy, 1924.
  • Koropeckyi, I. Development in the Shadow (New York, 1990)
    • idem, ed. Ukrainian Economic History(Cambridge MA, 1991)
  • Krawchenko,B. Social Change and National Consciousness in Twentieth Century Ukraine (New York, 1985)
  • Martin, Virginia. Law and custom in the steppe: the Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian colonialism in the nineteenth century. Richmond: Curzon, 2001
  • Serbyn, Roman. Lenine etla question ukrainienne en 1914. Pluriel no. 25, 1981.
  • Subtelny, Orest (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-5808-9.
  • Velychenko, Stephen, The Issue of Russian Colonialism in Ukrainian Thought.Dependency Identity and Development, AB IMPERIO 1 (2002) 323-66
  • Forsyth, James. "A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990" (1994)