The Balkan area consists of the modern day countries of Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, and other small nations that border the Black Sea. This area has prominently shaped European history in the nineteenth century and has been one of the topics in major conflicts such as World War I in the early twentieth century. The Balkans were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the "Old Man" of Europe, which was declining from power. The interest of expansionism of major European powers such as Russia, Great Britain, and France was a probable cause of the decline of the Ottoman Empire. These nations struggled for influence in Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to secure trade routes to Asia and Arabic States where goods, such as tea, gold, and spices, were abundant. Furthermore, the Balkans supported the strategic waterways of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles which allowed faster transportation of goods from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The Balkan area was crucial for Russian expansionism in order to gain power in Europe. According to the Russian foreign policy, expansion into the Balkans was important for Pan-Slavism, the idea of uniting all Slavic people of the Orthodox Christian religion. Furthermore, the Balkans were important to Russia for economic reasons since it provides easier access to the Mediterranean Sea and a larger market for Russian goods. The Balkan area held a major part of Russian expansionism because of the Pan-Slavism movement and economic factors. .
Russian Foreign Policy .
Through the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, the Tsarist foreign policy focussed on geographic expansion and growth in power. These goals were accomplished through the principles of autocracy, Orthodoxy, and nationality. Autocracy is the belief that the decisions of the state should be made by one absolute ruler. To preserve autocracy, the Russian government needed to have absolute power over the people.