The course I took on Ottoman history was 2-3 years ago and relatively short, so please correct any and all inaccurate statements I make. Also, I want to emphasize that neither genocide nor ethnic cleansing is ever justified.
EDIT: I want to emphasize that the Armenian genocide should not be equated with the other instances of ethnic cleansing mentioned below. The people who are ultimately responsible for the Armenian genocide are and always will be the people who orchestrated it and implemented it. There was no justifiable excuse for those actions. The number of mass killings and systematic race- and religion-based murders was, to the best of my knowledge, at that time unprecedented. The Armenian genocide cannot itself be considered a "population transfer" inasmuch as the vast majority of Armenians were brutally and unjustifiably killed, rather than displaced. What I was trying to ask is whether the Young Turk government used, in part, Russian expansionism as a rationalization for their atrocities. Russia conquering the Ottoman empire still would have been a better outcome than what actually happened, namely the Ottoman government senselessly and brutally murdering millions of its own citizens. Rationalizations rarely, if ever, amount to legitimate excuses or justifications of the actions in question, and I believe that this case is no different. /EDIT
As I recall, after the Russian Empire's Caucasus War in the late 19th century, the Muslim Circassians were almost entirely displaced from the Caucasus, with the Ottoman Empire absorbing the majority of refugees.
1. Did the architects of the Armenian Genocide during World War I plan their actions in part as a reciprocal population transfer (i.e. to force Russia to absorb the Christian Armenians the same way Russia forced the Ottomans to absorb the Muslim Circassians)?
I remember reading that during World War I, all Armenians, even those loyal to the Ottoman Empire, were under suspicion by the government for being a "fifth column" supporting Russia. This paranoia was exacerbated by the participation of Russian Armenians in the War in the Caucasus Front.
The Armenian Genocide, by killing millions of people, vastly diminished the presence of Armenians in eastern Anatolia and caused their modern-day concentration in the Caucasus. This is the opposite of the effect of the Russian ethnic cleansing of the Circassians, which effectively removed the Circassians from the Caucasus and displaced them to Anatolia. Thus, combining the two events, it seems possible that it was another instance of reciprocal ethnic cleansing (euphemistically referred to as "population transfers") which occurred between the Ottoman Empire and its Christian neighbors (and former subjects) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
2. To what extent can the reciprocal ethnic cleansings between the Ottoman Empire and Greece and Bulgaria, respectively, be traced to Russian influence?
I know that during this time period the Russian Empire wanted to project itself worldwide as the leader of all Orthodox Christians and all Slavic peoples, in part to justify their expansion at the expense of the Ottoman Empire.
It is well established that imperial Russia was one of the most fervent supporters of the Greek independence movement, with Catherine the Great trying to install her grandson as the King of Greece, and if I remember correctly Russian intervention playing a decisive role in a crucial naval battle.
Was the movement to oust Muslims from the newly independent Greece in part spurred on by imperial Russia wanting a client state more pliable to its claims of moral leadership of Orthodox Christians, which would have been undermined by a religiously diverse Greece?
Also I remember reading that Bulgarian nationalism was relatively non-existent outside of intellectual circles, and that as a result the political impetus for Bulgarian independence came primarily from Russian expansionism and concomitant military and political support for Slavic nationalist movements.
Was the reciprocal population transfer in Bulgaria also motivated by Russian desires for a more homogeneously Slavic and Orthodox Christian client state, i.e. so as to more effectively exert influence?
I remember being confused during the course about why ethnic tensions suddenly flared up in the Ottoman empire during this time period and why such extreme episodes of ethnic cleansing were suddenly acceptable to people who only centuries or decades before had seemingly very little to no sense of ethnic identity, much less nationalism.
Only recently did it occur to me that the sudden development of such "us vs. them" mentalities could have been provoked by the existential threat the expansion of the Russian empire posed to the Ottomans at the time (the dream of the former being to capture Istanbul/Constantinople and justify their claim of being the "Second Byzantium").
Of course Russian expansion at the expense of the Ottomans had been nothing new, with the Crimean Khanate being lost and the establishment of a Russian Black Sea fleet already occurring as early as the 18th century (I think), but only during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the Russians really on the cusp of conquering Istanbul and Anatolia itself, with the only force preventing this from occurring being the interventions of the British.
(Although there was also the time when the Egyptian province almost conquered Istanbul, advancing all the way into Anatolia, and forcing the sultan to beg the Russians to intervene, since the British refused -- so at the point the Russians probably could have taken Istanbul under the guise of protecting it from the Egyptians but stopped short of doing so for unclear reasons.)
Only recently did it occur to me that there might be a connection between all of this and the Russian War in the Caucasus and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Circassians, prompting me to ask this question.