The Russian Empire will never become an industrial and commercial power; but like every other unit in the new international World she has need of a free outlet to the high seas, through which she may transmit to foreign markets the raw produce of her vast continental hinterland, and supply herself with the manufactured goods of industrial countries in return.
Such outlets she has never yet obtained. Till the eighteenth century her only port was Archangel on the White Sea, and this perhaps sufficed her during the era of stagnant isolation: at any rate the English Merchant Adventurers found it worth their while to trade there, though it is ice-bound two-thirds of the year. [Footnote: From about October to May.] In the year 1700, the Baltic was a Swedish lake, and the Black Sea a Turkish one. Peter and Catherine broke the maritime monopoly of these two powers, and gave Russia a sea-board on both waters. Odessa [now in Ukraine] and Riga [now in Latvia] have grown in a century and a half to be magnificent ports, and would suffice in themselves for the needs of a Russia much more highly developed than the present. But they are no more in direct communication with the Oceanic highways of international commerce than are the ports of Milwaukee and Chicago on the Great Lakes.
Nationality and the War, Dent, 1915