Second Russo-Turkish War Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Angered by Turkish refusals to live up to past treaties and taking advantage of Turkish preoccupations in Greece, Russia’s Czar Nicholas I sent armies against Turkish possessions in northeastern Anatolia and the eastern Balkan region. After disasters on both fronts, the Turkish sultan sued for peace. The decidedly pro-Russian terms were embodied in the Treaty of Adrianople.

Summary of Event

When Nicholas I ascended the throne of the Russian Empire in 1825, he inherited from his brother the problem of what to do about the Ottoman Empire, with whom Russia had been at war intermittently since the early eighteenth century. Turkish defeats in the war of 1806-1812 released its grip on the Danubian territories of Walachia Walachia and Moldavia, and native revolts in Serbia Serbia and Greece were further undermining Turkish power in the Balkans. Russo-Turkish War (1828-1829)[Russo Turkish War (1828-1829)] Ottoman Empire;and Russia[Russia] Russia;and Ottoman Empire[Ottoman Empire] Nicholas I [p]Nicholas I[Nicholas 01];and Ottoman Empire[Ottoman Empire] Mahmud II [p]Mahmud II[Mahmud 02];and Russia[Russia] Paskevich, Ivan Fyodorovich Moldavia Walachia [kw]Second Russo-Turkish War (Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829) [kw]Russo-Turkish War, Second (Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829) [kw]Turkish War, Second Russo- (Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829) [kw]War, Second Russo-Turkish (Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829) Russo-Turkish War (1828-1829)[Russo Turkish War (1828-1829)] Ottoman Empire;and Russia[Russia] Russia;and Ottoman Empire[Ottoman Empire] Nicholas I [p]Nicholas I[Nicholas 01];and Ottoman Empire[Ottoman Empire] Mahmud II [p]Mahmud II[Mahmud 02];and Russia[Russia] Paskevich, Ivan Fyodorovich Moldavia Walachia [g]Turkey;Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829: Second Russo-Turkish War[1410] [g]Ottoman Empire;Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829: Second Russo-Turkish War[1410] [g]Russia;Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829: Second Russo-Turkish War[1410] [c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Apr. 26, 1828-Aug. 28, 1829: Second Russo-Turkish War[1410] Wittgenstein, Peter Diebitsch, Johann von

Turks surrendering Varna to the Russians.

(Francis R. Niglutsch)

Nicholas did not want to destroy Turkey, which would have invited an onslaught by European imperialists, but he did want to enhance his positions to both the east and west of the dying giant. In his role as czar, Nicholas also presented himself as the guarantor of Christian Orthodoxy in the Balkans, ruling as he did from Moscow, the Third Rome. The antagonistic activities of Sultan Mahmud II in the Danubian territories added fuel to the fire, as Nicholas was far less forgiving than his brother had been. The Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) made allies of Russia, France, and Great Britain through the Protocol of St. Petersburg St. Petersburg Protocol (1826)[Saint Petersburg Protocol (1826)] (1826) and the Treaty of London London, Treaty of (1827) (1827), both of which dedicated the trio to supporting Greek independence.

On March 24, 1826, Nicholas sent an ultimatum to the sultan insisting on Ottoman compliance with aforementioned treaties and, especially, the Treaty of Bucharest Bucharest, Treaty of (1812) (1812). Facing a revolt of his Janissary Janissaries;revolt of corps and international intervention in Greece, Mahmud acceded to Nicholas’s demands and signed the Treaty of Akkerman Akkerman, Treaty of (1826) (1826). With the Russians distracted by a war with Persia;and Russia[Russia] Russia;and Persia[Persia] Persia, and both the French and British engaged in changes of government, Mahmud publicly repudiated the Treaty of Akkerman at the end of 1827.

The victories of General Ivan Fyodorovich Paskevich in Persia Persia led to the Treaty of Turkmanchai Turkmanchai, Treaty of (1828) (1828) and Russia’s occupation of the old western khanates of Erivan and Nakhichevan. The Russians under Paskevich now had direct access to the Ottoman Empire’s border. Meanwhile, Nicholas sent the Russian Second Army, under the aging field marshal Peter Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein, Peter to a jumping off point in Russian-controlled Bessarabia, control of which it had gained in 1812. The czar declared war on the Ottomans on April 26, 1828, and the Russian armies immediately marched on Turkish positions.

In the east, Paskevich advanced from Tiflis with 25,000 men and 200 cannons. The troops covered 350 miles in just four months and defeated some 80,000 Turkish troops in battle. In late June, 12,000 Russian cavalry and infantry besieged the fortress city of Kars, which was defended by Emin Pasha, who commanded some 15,000 men and 165 cannons. On July 5 the city fell. The Russians lost about 600 men in the fighting and the Ottomans suffered nearly 5,000 casualties and captives. One month later, Paskevich laid siege to Akhaltsikhe with 110,000 men and 70 guns. At the end of the three-week siege, the 40,000-man garrison surrendered, with both sides losing numbers very similar to those at Kars. By the onset of winter, Paskevich had also reduced Anapa, Ardahan, Poti, and Bayazid, before settling down in Georgia.

General Johann von Diebitsch Diebitsch, Johann von planned Wittgenstein’s 1828 campaign. The object was to occupy Moldavia, Walachia, and the Dobruja, and to seize the fortress cities of Varna and Shumen. With some 94,000 men, Wittgenstein crossed the Pruth and quickly occupied the Danubian territories. He stopped to await the delighted czar, who joined the army at Braila on May 7. They crossed the Danube near Isaccea and divided the army among multiple sieges. The Turks, led by Hussein Paşa Hussein Paşa , fielded an army of some 150,000 men who defended the Balkan region vigorously and intelligently. On October 12, Prince Menshikov Menshikov, Prince captured Varna after a three-month siege, at a cost of 5,000 of his 35,000 men. Shumen, however, remained in Turkish hands and the advance had clearly stalled.

As the season turned, Nicholas returned to St. Petersburg to consult with his council of war, which recommended that Wittgenstein Wittgenstein, Peter be replaced with Diebitsch. For his part, Mahmud replaced Hussein Paşa with the grand vizier Mustafa Reşid Paşa Mustafa Reşid Paşa in the Balkans.

Come spring, 1829, Paskevich seized Erzerum and aimed his army toward Trebizond. In the west, Diebitsch energized his Russian army, now possibly 114,000 strong. The fortress of Silistria and its 16,000-man garrison was first to fall, after a forty-four day siege (June 25). Meanwhile, Reşid and Diebitsch Diebitsch, Johann von met at Kulevcha on June 11, and the Russians held the field. Supported by the Black Sea Black Sea;and Russia[Russia] fleet, the Russians marched southward rapidly and largely without opposition. Burgas fell on July 12 and the way to Adrianople (Edirne) and Constantinople (Istanbul), the Ottoman capital, lay wide open. The mere threat of attack caused Adrianople to surrender on August 20, and a week later the sultan sued for peace. Terms were dictated and a treaty signed in Adrianople in September.

Even with the lopsided Russian victories, the czar lost a total of nearly 140,000 men on both fronts, most of whom died of disease. Ottoman casualties, also mainly from disease, amounted to about 80,000 men.


Czar Nicholas I was able to dictate terms that ensured a Russian presence that would be deeply embedded on Turkey’s western and northeastern borders while leaving the so-called “sick man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire, largely intact and capable of continuing. By ceding Georgia and other Caucasian territories, and the eastern shores of the Black Sea Black Sea;and Russia[Russia] , Sultan Mahmud II virtually guaranteed future border wars.

Russia’s sponsorship of Moldavia and Walachia merely underlined the terms of previous treaties, but its insistence on Serbian Serbia autonomy under Turkish suzerainty and Greek autonomy with tributary status created a new role for Russia as guarantor of southern Slavic (and Orthodox) independence. Russia’s fleeting alliance with France and Great Britain in support of Greek independence would prove short-lived as Nicholas’s aims to control the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean became ever clearer.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Allen, W. E. D. Caucasian Battlefields: A History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucausian Border 1828-1921. Richmond, Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 2002. Opens with a detailed discussion of the eastern front and the victories of Paskevich.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Brewer, David. The Greek War of Independence. New York: Overlook, 2001. Provides important background to the Turkish preoccupation and Russian religious and ethnic goals in the southern Balkans.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Curtis, John Shelton. The Russian Army Under Nicholas I, 1825-1855. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965. Discusses Nicholas’s early reign, helping to explain why the Russians were so successful against the Turks.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lincoln, W. Bruce. Nicholas I: Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. Evanston: Northern Illinois University Press, 1989. A standard biography in English that paints a fine picture of the czar’s military and diplomatic intentions.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Saunders, David. Russia in the Age of Reaction and Reform, 1801-1881. New York: Longman, 1992. A general history of Russia that places the war in the context of Russia’s nineteenth century territorial expansion and developing pan-Slavism.

Ottomans Suppress the Janissary Revolt

Greeks Fight for Independence from the Ottoman Empire

Treaty of Adrianople

Turko-Egyptian Wars

Russian Realist Movement

Crimean War

Third Russo-Turkish War

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