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Why did Russia want to expand eastwards, and what where the benefits?

closed as too broad by Pieter Geerkens, SPavel, Denis de Bernardy, Alex, sds Jan 3 '18 at 22:30

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  • The title and the body of this question do not match. One could read the title as "why have not they invaded to the West or South?", and the body is inaccurate; the Muscovy began invading Siberia as early as on 1581. – bytebuster Jan 3 '18 at 19:14
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    Your title asked why but the text of your question seems to be asking how; which one do you mean? Also, there's an article on the on Wikipedia. Please review the article first and, if you have questions left, use the edit button and state which part of wiki you find unclear or doubt. – Semaphore Jan 3 '18 at 19:14
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    Hi Jake! Read the Wikipedia in the comment above. The short verion is that they expanded eastwards because that's where the Mongols came from. They started by securing their eastern frontier, and just continued in step with Western European colonialism. – axsvl77 Jan 3 '18 at 19:40
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    Because they couldn't expand westwards? It's not like Muscovy/Russia in its early days could take on the Teutons, Poland-Lithuania, or Scandinavia. – Denis de Bernardy Jan 3 '18 at 21:19
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    It also wanted and still wants to expand westwards, as well as southwards. – Alex Jan 3 '18 at 21:52
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Russia expanded (mostly) eastwards for the same reason Britain expanded over seas: the path of least resistance.

On the West and South Russia faced powerful neighbors - Teutonic Order, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Ottoman Empire/Crimean Khanate. (Do I need to mention the Arctic Ocean on the North? ;-)

On the East there were rapidly decaying but still meddlesome remnants (Kazan, Turan, Astrakhan) of the Golden Horde. Obviously this is where one would apply the force: relatively easily secure the Eastern border and only then concentrate on the West and South.

Of course, Russia was, in fact, expanding in all available directions, wherever there was a weak spot in the neighborhood. It's just that there was much more space in the East and resistance there was much weaker.

  • Turkey? Nowadays turkey was under the Ottoman Empire during Russia’s expansion. – Jake Jan 3 '18 at 22:04
  • Austria was also little threat – Jake Jan 3 '18 at 22:04
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    Russia did try to expand northwestwards, taking Finland from Sweden in the early 1800s, and then retaking a chunk of it (which it still holds) in the Winter War of IIRC 1939. – jamesqf Jan 4 '18 at 3:56
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    @jamesqf: yes, this is what I wrote in the last paragraph. – sds Jan 4 '18 at 5:11
  • @sds: Yes, I just pointed out a specific example of expansion on the west. – jamesqf Jan 5 '18 at 3:35

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