From the end of Peter I’s reign to the end of Catherine II’s, Imperial Russia enjoyed a period of territorial expansion as it established itself as a major European power. Peter secured Dagestan from the Safavids in 1722, however it was returned in 1735, and Kabardia was declared a Russo-Ottoman buffer state in 1739. Catherine II oversaw most of Russia’s expansion during this era, beginning with the installation of her former lover Stanisław Poniatowski as king of Poland. Later, acting alongside Prussia and Austria, she seized upon Poland’s weakness and annexed the majority of its eastern territories. Catherine also enjoyed great successes against the Ottoman Empire in the first and second Russo-Turkish Wars, gaining vital access to the Black Sea upon the annexation of the Crimea in 1783. Internal rebellions in the Bakshir Rising and Pugachev’s Revolt saw serf groups attempt to declare independent states, consequently diverting resources away from Russia’s territorial expansion.
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