I came across this in the "Background section" of Wikipedia article Battle of Sinop.

Fighting at sea between Imperial Russia and the Ottoman Empire had been going on for weeks, and the Ottomans had sent several squadrons into the Black Sea to patrol. One of these squadrons, under Osman Pasha, ended up at Sinope, joining the frigate Kaid Zafer which had been part of an earlier patrol, and being joined by the steam frigate Taif from a smaller squadron. The Ottomans had wanted to send ships of the line to Sinope, but the British ambassador in Constantinople, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, had objected to this plan, and only frigates were sent.

I have a couple of related questions about this. How could a nation "object" to another nation's war strategy? And why did the Ottomans comply? This seemed to be a bad move, because at the Battle of Sinop, these frigates got annihilated by Russian ships (which included 6 ships-of-the-line).

And why did Britain object to this? Britain would enter the war later on the Ottomans' side, so why the heck did they object when their future allies tried their best to win the war?

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    This isn't a complete answer, but Britain wanted an excuse to enter the war.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 1:31
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    and Turkey just agreed to getting their ships and men decimated?
    – Louis Rhys
    Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 17:45
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    @Michael Historical fiction is not a very good source. Have you got a real source? Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 20:49
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    @FelixGoldberg, fiction is a terrible source for History, of course. Just pointing out that some writers who studied that period of history found some of those engagements played by Turks in manner that perhaps could be called "strategic retreat".
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 2:24
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    The frigates were according to Wikipedia on patrol. There were therefore not sent there deliberatly to have a battle, and the reason there were no ships-of-the-line could easily be that they were thought to be of better use somewhere else. For example in the defense of Constantinople. Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 6:00

2 Answers 2


According to the link in the question: "This attack provided France and the United Kingdom with the justification for declaring war on Russia in early 1854 in support of the Ottoman Empire."

Basically, the British ambassador wanted the Turks to lose the battle so that Britain would have an excuse for getting into the war.

At the time, Russia was far stronger than Turkey. Meaning that without British (and French) intervention, the Turks would lose the war, even if they won the battle.

Therefore the Turks "went along" with their allies, because losing the battle would be preferable to losing the war.


You don't need a plot for casus belli to explain that.

Britain wanted the Ottoman Empire to stand against Russia and was ready to help the Turks. The Turks had low odds against the Russians, so they were ready to put their ships out of Sinope.

British wanted them to stand there because it could have two endings:

  • First possible ending, Russians are beaten by Ottoman ships: good, but not probable
  • Second ending, Ottoman ships in the harbour led the Russians out of attacking, because of the risk of leading other powers in the war
  • Third, and eventually what happened: Turks are sunk but it allows Britain to enter war with France as an ally

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