Poltava, Battle of
(June 1709) Decisive victory of Russia over Sweden in the Second Northern War. The battle was fought near Poltava, Ukr., between 80,000 Russian troops under Peter I the Great and Aleksandr Menshikov and 17,000 Swedish troops under Charles XII. Despite the lack of reinforcements for his depleted forces, Charles besieged Poltava in May 1709. The Russians set up a countersiege line and forced the Swedes to attack. Charles planned a daring charge through the Russian line, but he had been injured, and his commanders failed to execute the attack. The Russian counterattack killed or captured the entire Swedish army except for Charles and 1,500 followers. Sweden's defeat ended its status as a major power and marked the beginning of Russian supremacy in eastern Europe.
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