Shpion vs. Casus: Ottoman and Russian Intelligence in the Balkans during the Crimean War (1853-56)

Koeremezli İ.

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.50, no.2, pp.192-207, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2013.870889
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.192-207
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: Yes


In October 1853, a war erupted between the Russian and the Ottoman empires, which became the celebrated Crimean War in the following year. The Danubian theatre, one of the crucial scenes of the war, witnessed both belligerents trying to discover the other's activities and planned operations. As they were inhabited by cosmopolitan and heterogeneous populations, Dobruca (Dobruja) and Bessarabia were the most convenient places for both parties to gather military intelligence. The Ottomans acquired information via the Wallachians and the Cossacks, as well as by diplomatic missions and various merchants. The Ottoman Empire's Orthodox Christian subjects - the Bulgarians and Greeks - assisted Russia in gathering information from the right bank of the Danube. Some of these reports were unreliable, as were the spies themselves. The Russian and Ottoman archives have rich resources related to military intelligence, which is an understudied aspect of the Crimean War. Relying upon the archival sources, this paper aims to discuss an entirely ignored topic: the espionage activities in the Balkan theatre during the Crimean War.