As the 1700s came to a close, the world was changing dramatically. The Americas were being settled. Napoleon, rising out of the chaos of the French Revolution, began his conquest of Europe. Prussia was formed from the German Provinces of Brandenburg, Pomerania, Danzig, West Prussia, and East Prussia under the leadership of King Friedrich II (Friedrich the Great). The Russian Empire, occupying the vast area east of Europe and the northern side of the Caucasus was beginning to look
for expansion opportunities in the Caucasus.
The Caucasus region was in such disarray that it is little surprise czarist Russia had a relatively easy time obtaining rule of the land. In Georgia,for example, local kings had had a difficult time uniting to fend off the Ottoman Turks and Persians. In 1783, Erekle II (c. 1720–1798), king of Kartli-Kakheti, turned to Russia for protection against Persian conquest. He accepted Russian vassalage in return for Russia’s guarantee that his kingdom’s borders would not change. However, Russia took a firmer hand in controlling the country. After his death, Russia annexed the eastern Georgian kingdom to the Russian Empire in 1801. That scene played out again and again as Russia fought two Russo-Persian wars from 1804 to 1813 and from 1826 to 1828. In the end, Russia ended up with all the Persian territory north of the Aras River. It had become the first European power to extend its rule into the Middle East.
Russian expansion into Persian and Ottoman territory slowed in the 1850s as the leaders focused their attention on Europe. Between 1853 and 1856, the Russians were defeated in the Crimean War, which they fought against several European powers. They also continued to fight the Persians in addition to the Turks to gain greater control over the Caucasus. With an army split on two fronts, the conquest was difficult but, by 1860, they had completed their conquest of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas. Russia saw this area as a colony and was content to exploit it for its needs while allowing the local people to go about their daily lives without interference whenever possible.