Russias westward expansion under catherine resulted from the partitioning of poland as poland became increasingly weak in the eighteenth century each of its neighbors russia prussia and austria tried to place its own candidate on the polish throne. Russia in the 18th century is dominated by two greats both of whom lived in the 18th century firstly peter who created a naval power modernised the country in the european style and established an empire with a new capital looking west and secondly catherine who continued peters reforms and widened the empires borders at the expense of poland and the ottoman empire. Before the 18th century russia was considered a part of europe only by courtesy hemmed in by sweden on the baltic and the ottoman empire on the black sea the country had no warm water ports archangel on the white sea was its only outlet to the west consequently there was little trade beside the physical separation russia was separated by the customs and cultural adherence to eastern . The 18th century became truly earthshaking in the history of russia it was the time of radical changes caused by peter is reforms peter the great made a u turn for russia towards the west
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