Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

The Birth of the Russian Navy

When Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) came into full power of the crown in 1696, he dreamt of expanding his empire. Looking to the south and to the west, he recognized Russia’s need for a navy. A navy would promise access to water, which would not only provide opportunities for trade and exploration, but would also provide a strong defense against powers such as the Ottomans and the Swedes. While Peter I was eager to start building his navy, he lacked adequate access to ports.  In 1696, with his sights set on an Ottoman fortress on the Sea of Azov, Peter commissioned a flotilla from the shipyards at Voronezh. The campaign was unsuccessful, but the Russian navy was born.

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