Russia and Iran, 1780-1828
Modern Russo-Iranian relations date from the late eighteenth century, when after several centuries of commercial and diplomatic contact, the two nations entered a period of extended warfare for possession of the Caucasian borderlands, disputed territory that eventually fell to Russia. In her history of that struggle, Muriel Atkin reasseses the motives of major figures on both sides and views the Iranians with more sympathy than Western and Russian historians have usually accorded them. Russia embarked on her course in the Caucasus for reasons connected with defense or trade, and with a long-term imperial goal based on uncritical acceptance of prevailing European doctrines of empire. The new dynasty in Iran, on the other hand, had to fend off Russian attack and secure the borderlands in order to justify its basic claim to power. In the end, the wars brought major disruption to the already unstable borderlands, and left Iran with a discredited government and a controversy over reforms and relations with the West that would continue to cause turmoil in subsequent generations.