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A day in history that inspired leaders to fight

Published time: December 19, 2009 02:01
Edited time: December 19, 2009 02:01

Let's travel back in time now with Historama, where we look at what made November 30 noteworthy in history.

The defeat that caused the reform of Russia’s armed forces

In the year 1700 Russia was defeated by Sweden in the Battle of Narva. Tsar Peter the Great was keen to expand his territory by conquering parts of the Swedish Baltic provinces, triggering the Great Northern War. But his army was poorly trained compared to the Swedes, and the defeat forced the Emperor to launch a massive reform of his armed forces, including a new shipbuilding program for the Navy.

Four years later, he tried again, and this time succeeded. These days Narva is now part of Estonia.

Naval battle between Russia and Turkey

Another battle, this time at sea and in 1853, started on November 30 between the Russian and Turkish navies at the Turkish port of Sinop. It was part of a long-running power struggle brought about by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Russia defeated Turkey without the loss of a single ship. However, victory prompted Great Britain and France to enter the Crimean War on the side of the Turks. Three years later the Russians were defeated by the Western European powers and forced into a humiliating surrender.

The beginning of the Winter War

There must be something aggressive about November 30, because in 1940 there was yet another battle. This time it marked the beginning of the Winter War, when the Soviet Union tried to invade Finland. At the time Russia's second largest city, Leningrad, was just a few kilometers from the Finnish border, and Soviet authorities feared it was vulnerable to attack.

The West condemned the strike as an unprovoked aggression. Over 100,000 lives were lost in the battle, and while a cease-fire forced Finland to cede around a tenth of its territory, it did little to protect Leningrad. Just a year later Nazi forces surrounded it, in what would be a three year-long siege of the city.

Read more about this day in history on Russia Now