Before the 18th century, Russia was considered a part of Europe only by courtesy. Hemmed in by Sweden (on the Baltic Sea) and the Ottoman Empire (on the Black Sea), the country had no warm water ports. Also, there was very little trade with the bordering countries.
Aside from the physical separation, Russia was separated by the customs and the cultural differences that it had to the rest of the world.
During the 18th century, the Russian Empire became political power. This was due to Peter I (Peter the Great) because of his accomplishments forced the West to take notice of his nation.
Peter The Great
When Peter I came into power in 1689, he had two basic goals for his country: •Modernize his country in the western fashion.
•Gain warm water ports to access to the west, thus, bringing more trade, recognition, and respect by the other European powers.
Dealing with the West
Peter set out his plans by sending a grand embassy to the European powers in 1697 to enlist their help against Turkey. He went along too, pretending to be a ship's carpenter, and worked in English and Dutch shipyards. He studied everything from anatomy and engraving to European industrial techniques in order to gain as much information as possible.
He was determined to give Russia an outlet to the sea, both on the Baltic Sea and Caspian Sea. He brought European shipbuilders to Russia. Then in 1696, with a new fleet, he was able to capture Azov, the chief Turkish fortress on the Sea of Azov. As Captain Peter Alekseevich, he commanded from the Principium – a ship built by his own hand.
In 1700, he felt ready to attack Sweden. With Poland and Denmark as allies, he started the Great Northern War, which lasted until 1721. Peter defeated the Swedes and gained an outlet to the Baltic Sea. The Treaty of Nystad (1721) ended the war and gave Russia the prized Swedish provinces on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. Sweden became a...