South Slav-Russian Relations in the Last Half of the Nineteenth Century

Intrusion, Resentment, and Mutual Naiveté

  • David J Crockett University of Minnesota
Keywords: Russia, Bulgaria, South Slavic


This article examines the myth of “eternal friendship” between Bulgarians and Russians and how their mutual failure to understand the other’s motives gave way to resentment, estrangement, and mutual naiveté, straining this supposed natural affinity. The article begins by examining the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and its aftermath, which provides a case study of the ambiguous and changing relationship between Russia and the South Slavs.  The second part of the article examines in greater detail the cultural and political affinities between two peoples—including Pan-Slavism, a common Orthodox religion, and similar languages—and why these commonalities still failed to overcome Bulgarian national self-interest and desires for national independence. While this article focuses on Bulgaria, many of the arguments can also be applied to Serbia and other South Slavic countries.  

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