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Posted on Jun 30, 2009 in War College

Battle of Poltava 300th Anniversary, June 27, 2009

By Vladimir Kvitko


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The Victory Monument in the city of Poltava’s central town park. Monuments commemorating the Russian victory abound in the city and on the battlefield, most erected by the Romanov dynasty during the battle’s bicentennial in 1909. After the failed 1905 Russian Revolution, Czar Nicholas II attempted to use the glory and achievements of his Romanov predecessors, like Peter the Great, to win popular support for his autocratic regime, erecting monuments at famous battlefields like Poltava and Borodino (site of the Napoleonic battle in 1812). The successful 1917 Russian Revolution proved Nicholas’ efforts futile – not even his celebration of his Romanov ancestor’s historic victory at the Battle of Poltava was enough to save the failing dynasty. (Courtesy, Jerry D. Morelock)

June 27, 2009 marked the 300th anniversary of one of history’s greatest battles, the 1709 Battle of Poltava. (See “50 Battles That Shaped Our World,” January 2009 issue of Armchair General magazine.) Led by Czar Peter the Great, a Russian army of 49,000 defeated the 24,000-man Swedish army of King Charles XII near the eastern Ukrainian town of Poltava (see map). Poltava was the most decisive victory in the Great Northern War (1700-21) in which Russia, joined by a coalition including Denmark-Norway, Poland-Lithuania (after 1709), and several German kingdoms fought Sweden for supremacy of eastern Russia and the Baltic countries. The Russian victory at Poltava and subsequently in the Great Northern War established the country as a major European power, and led to Russia ending Swedish influence in the Baltic region. Significantly, Russia’s new-won access to the Baltic Sea allowed Czar Peter to create the city of St. Petersburg, Russia’s long-sought “window on the Baltic.” (See “Peter the Great” by Ralph Peters in the May 2009 issue of Armchair General magazine.)


Reader Vladimir Kvitko of Kharkov, Ukraine attended the June 27, 2009 festivities in Poltava celebrating the historic victory, and sent us his photos showing visitors and re-enactors enjoying the event.

[NOTE: regular ACG website visitors will recall Kvitko’s previous photo essay, “Victory Day in Kharkov, Ukraine,” with his photos showing parades and military displays in his hometown on May 9, 2008 honoring the 63d anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, known as The Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union.