Russo-Crimean Wars

The Russo-Crimean Wars were fought between the forces of Muscovy and the Tatars of the Crimean Khanate during the 16th century over the region around Volga River.

In the 16th century, the Wild Steppes in Russia were exposed to the Tatars. During the wars, Crimean Tatars (supported by the Turkish army) invaded central Russia, devastated Ryazan, burned Moscow, and took 150,000 Russians as captives. However, the next year the Tatars were defeated in the Battle of Molodi. Despite the defeat, the Tartar raids continued. As a result, the Crimean Khanate was invaded several times, conquered in late 18th century. The Tatars eventually lost their influence in the over the regions.

The raids began shortly after the establishment of the Muscovy's buffer state, Qasim Khanate, and the domination of Moscow in the Moscow-Kazan Wars of the late 15th century.


At the guarding border of the Moscow state.. Painting by Sergey Vasilievich Ivanov.

The Crimean Tatar's invasions of Russia (Muscovy) began in 1507, after the death of Moscow's grand duke Ivan III, with the Crimean Khanate attacking the Russian towns of Belev and Kozelsk.

Over the course of the 16th century, the outer border of the Wild Steppes was near the city of Ryazan, outside the Oka River. The main path for the invading forces to Moscow was the Muravsky Trail, running from the Crimean Isthmus of Perekop, between the basins of the Dnieper and Severskiy Donets rivers, and finally up to Tula. The Tatars would turn back only after extensive looting and kidnapping, the Tartars usually managed to penetrate 100–200 kilometers into Russian territory. Captives were subsequently sent to the Crimean city of Caffa to be sold into Slavery. As a result, the Russian population in the border regions suffered heavily.

Each spring, Russia mobilized up to 65,000 soldiers for border service. The defensive lines consisted of a circuit of fortresses and cities.

To protect from invasions by the Nogai Horde in the region between the Volga and Irtysh rivers, the Volga cities of Samara (1586), Tsaritsyn (1589), and Saratov (1590) were founded.

The most damaging invasions occurred in 1517, 1521 (supported by the Khanate of Kazan), 1537 (supported by the Khanate of Kazan, the Lithuanians, and the Ottoman Empire), 1552, 1555, 1570–72 (supported by Sweden and the Ottoman Empire), 1589, 1593, 1640, 1666–67 (supported by Poland-Lithuania), 1671, and 1688.