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Russian envoys in the Ottoman capital routinely raised storm warnings over commerce and other contentious points in Russian-Ottoman relations. Trade formed part of the "precarious balance" between conflict and negotiation, as the two adjacent empires competed for lands, peoples and resources along porous frontiers and engaged in risky but profitable commercial exchange. Archival documents from the Russian embassy in Constantinople provide telling detail and firsthand commentary on trade issues, contested borders and related concerns in Russian-Ottoman affairs of the early 19th century. These- sources not only indicate the variety of interests that shaped Russian policy in the eastern Mediterranean but highlight some of the underlying tensions that generated friction in "the Russian-Ottoman relationship. Moreover, these records attest to Russia's maritime presence in the Ottoman Levant and to the important but largely neglected facet of trade in the European rivalries that fueled the Eastern Question.


Originally published in Balkanistica 21 (2008): 109-24

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