The victories and defeats of the Russian Empire in the 19th century.
1836-1846 Russia in 1836 was already a huge nation, but was largely agrarian, with its industrial capacity only the 7th largest of the world powers. Tsar Nikolai I had been convinced after his trip to Western Europe that Russia needed to industrialize and build railways, so a major 10-year plan was started. Indeed he often referred to the modernization of Tsar Peter the Great. In those ten years the number of factories would be increased from 13 to 41, and a railroad was built from Turku to Rostov (by St. Petersburg and Moscow).
Also a large amount of the population moved away from the traditional work of farming into work on the factory floor. The rest of the advances of that 10-year period can be seen as less than successful. The army funding was cut into a minimum, crippling the officer-corps and army capability. Crime was rampant, and literacy was still horribly low compared to the rest of Europe, although the education budget was acceptable in size. Little technological advance was done. Also in a move mostly ignored by the world-community, Georgia was invaded and annexed. Nikolai did however manage to create good relations with Sweden.
1846-1849 Proud by his achievements in the past 10 years, Nikolai wanted to expand Russia more, and gobble up parts of the (in his opinion), dying Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately the full scale of devastation the 10 years of cut army funding had caused was hidden from the Tsar. Even though preparations for the war began 2,5 years before the actual war, more than half of the Russian divisions were at minimal strength, and only a handful were at full strength. Although the Tsar had also called for 10 reserve divisions to be created (which would arrive full strength and surely defeat anything the Ottomans could muster he claimed at one meeting), the creation and arming of these had stopped the once lucrative exportation of canned-food and small arms. The opening stages of the war went adequately, with victories in the southwest-Caucasus and the black-sea coast. But before the reserve could be deployed into action, the Ottomans were already ready. The Russian army had enough strength in the west to hold its own, but in the east it became a war of large-scale manoeuvre, with the Russians marching left and right to defend against the Ottoman offensives. Only the cautiousness of the Ottoman army saved the eastern front from being a complete failure for the Russian army, and in the west the Russianswas hard pressed too but managed to take the undefended Ottoman capital of Istanbul, although advancement away from the black-sea coast proved itself to be almost impossible.
Then the last chock came. The English Royal Navy was sailing into the Black Sea, and there was little the Russian Fleet could do, as it was outnumbered more than 2-1 in the end. The English landed at the undefended Crimean peninsula, and the Tsar found himself wanting to make a quick peace before he might have to give up land for peace. First he demanded almost all of the land the Russian army currently occupied, and was flatly refused (It is rumoured that the Russian ambassador in London was laughed out as he presented a status-quo peace suggestion to the English). After much talk the Tsar was happy to recieve at least one province, Constanta. However the nation was now almost 20000 £ in debt, and for almost 4 years no new industries or railroads had been built, and it seemed uncertain that Russia would manage to keep pace with the rest of Europe in industrializing (she still had the 7th largest industrial capacity though).