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John LeDonnes book The Russian Empire and the World 1700-1917 takes its readers through the implication of Russias geography and how it played part in the formation of its boundaries The author painstakingly shows the development of Russia over two centuries LeDonne shows every aspect of Russian expansionism and its political motives behind each expansion At times the author tells how Russias geography hinders the development of the country This book also serves as a tool for looking at the major events in Russian history throughout a two century time table Perhaps the most accurate description of this book would be that it shows a history of Russian foreign policy The Heartland was the mirror image of Russias unfulfilled ambitions since the urge to expand was never completely satisfied The limits of the empire fell short of aspirations into the Baltic towards the Mediterranean beyond the Caspian and through Mongolia Moving out from its original core to Christendom Latin and Orthodox and the Golden Horde Russia came up against four further cores Scandinavian Polish Turkish and Persian Adopting forward policies on land the Russians also for the most part vainly aspired to rule the waves By the 19th century containment was presented now by six cores Germany Austria France Britain China and Japan LeDonne gives his thesis in great detail To the West three features stand out The first is Russian expansionism Poland and Sweden grew weaker and opportunities developed for international trade Secondly Russia was able to exploit to its own advantage the fragmentation of the frontier taking over the Ukraine and the Baltic States The third feature of relations with Russias immediate West was a fortress fleet strategy guarding the empires Baltic limits from everyone To the South Russian expansionism began to grow Persian and Ottoman foes were becoming less of a threat Strategically Russia worked at keeping the Black Sea closed a policy requiring a
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