On October 4 (16), 1853 Crimea war began. It was the war between Russia and the coalition of Great Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia for rule in the Middle East.
By the middle of 19th century the Great Britain and France excluded Russia from the Middle East markets and bent Turkey to their will. At that time Russia pursued an active policy intended to free Slavic peoples from Turkish power. In order to weaken Russia, Great Britain and France urged Turkey to come up against Russia, promising to provide it with military aid. It was not without French government involvement in 1850 that a dispute arose between catholic and orthodox clergy over possessing of Christian shrines on the Holy Land that belonged to Turkey. The provocation that started the war was the act of passing the keys of Bethlehem Church of the Navity over to catholic clergy. The act was taken as an insult of Russian emperor.
In February of 1853 Nicolai I sent to Constantinople his ambassador extraordinary A.S. Menshikov who demanded in a form of ultimatum that orthodox subjects of Turkish sultan were under the special patronage of the Russian tsar. The embassy proved to be unsuccessful. In reply to this, on June 26 (July 8), 1853 Russia brought its troops in Moldova and Valakhia that were under Adrianople peace treaty under protectorate of Turkey in purpose to put pressure on the latter.
In 1853 and beginning of 1854 military operations were successful for Russia. Russian troops won some victories at Caucasus; Black Sea fleet defeated the Turkish one near Sinop. Turkey being unable to resist Russia by itself, the Great Britain and France declared war to Russia in March of 1854. In 1854 the troops of allied powers disembarked in Crimea, inflicted a range of defeats on the Russian army and began to besiege Sevastopol. In 1855 Russia found itself in diplomatic isolation. After Sevastopol’s fall military operations practically stopped.
Crimea war ended by Paris peace treaty signed on March 18 (30), 1856. The defeat of Russia conditioned by its military and economic backwardness, urged the government to begin transformations realized in course of the reforms of 1860-1870.
Lit.: Богданович М. И. Восточная война 1853-1856 гг. СПб., 1877; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://history.scps.ru/crimea/bogdan00.htm; Зайончковский А. М. Восточная война 1853-1856 гг. СПб., 2002; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://adjudant.ru/crimea/zai00.htm; Тарле Е. В. Крымская война: в 2 т. М.; Л., 1941-1944; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/h/tarle3/index.html.
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