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Peter I and United Europe: The Confrontation in The Baltic Region at The Beginning of The 18th Century

Mikhail V. Zherebkin, Igor M. Esip, Snezhana P. Shendrikova, Alexandra A. Yudina.

In political talk shows, one can sometimes hear that sanctions against Russia are the result of the «Crimean Spring» in 2014 and the Crimea’s return to its native Russian harbor, and if this had not happened, the relations between Russia and the West would be extremely good-neighborly, mutually beneficial and friendly... The counterargument runs as follows: the confrontation between Russia and the West has lasted for many centuries. It was in the past, remains nowadays and will continue in the future ...The purpose of the article is to analyze the confrontation between Russia and the West at the beginning of the 18th century, which was not only the continuation of the centuries-long confrontation between the parties to the conflict, but also revealed new motives of their rivalry. Earlier, the attack of the Swedish and German knights in the first half of the 13th century, Ivan IV’s war against the Swedes, Livonians, Lithuanians and Poles in the second half of the 16th century and the struggle of the Tsardom of Muscovy against the Poles at the beginning of the 17th century took place during the periods of the Russian state’s weakness. However, the confrontation between Peter I and united Europe in the Baltic region at the beginning of the 18th century unfolded at the time of Russia’s strengthening, when it succeeded in regaining «grandfathers’ and fathers’» lands and became a strong state in that geopolitically important region. The study is novel in that it considers this perspective to the problem. The relevance of the study is proved not only by the current state of relations between Russia and the West, in which unprecedented pressure on our country prevails in practically all spheres of the Russian state and society, but also by the fact that the struggle against modern Russia started when it rose from its knees and, overcoming the consequences of the USSR’s collapse and the 1990’s, declared an independent policy on the international stage. Drawing a parallel between the events taking place in Russian history 300 years ago and nowadays, the West’s main and unchanging goal may be determined. This goal is slowing down the development of Russia and limiting its influence on international affairs. The authors conclude that both 300 years ago and now Russia can rely only on itself, its strong economy, powerful armed forces and the unity of the government and the people.

Key words: Great Northern War, Peter I, Charles XII, the Baltic coast, Sweden, «northern settlement» plan, Åland Congress, Anglo-Swedish treaty, Nystadt Peace.

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