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Charles XII was one of the most talented military leaders of the Early Modern era. Voltaire had no doubt that the entire invasion of Russia was a mistake and in a critical biography he blamed Charles for the collapse of the Swedish Empire <ref> Voltaire, p. 99</ref>
. The Swedish king’s entire strategy of invading Russia was arguably unrealistic. He made a cardinal error by marching on Moscow and he should have attacked and conquered St Petersburg instead. Then he placed too much trust in the Cossacks and his trust in them was misplaced, indeed they possibly distracted him from a direct assault on Moscow, which may have given him some chance of success. Then there was the strategy of the Russians. They used the geography and climate to great effect. They adopted a cautious approach, with the knowledge that the elements would help them to defeat the Swedes. Imperial Russian forces were also a modern fighting force and they fought courageously in defense of ‘Holy Russia’. Then there were the vast spaces and inclement weather of the Russian Steppe and these played a crucial factor in the defeat of the Swedish invasion. Charles XII in hindsight did not really have a hope of victory over the Russian Tsar and the invasion was doomed from the start.