Plausibility Check: A Polish-Lithuanian-Ottoman alliance against the Russians?


Ad Honoris
May 2014
Would it have been plausible for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire to form an alliance with each other against Russia sometime in the 16th, 17th, and/or 18th centuries? If so, what would the effects of such an alliance have been? Also, what would the other Great Powers have done in response to such an alliance?
Apr 2017
In the 15th, 16th and 17th century Russia was barely noteworthy as far as the Ottomans were concerned. They were just some barbarian horde gnawing away at the northern Khanates. By the 18th century it was too late, the Ottoman empire and Poland were in decline. That and also Poland was a bigger enemy to the Ottomans than the Russians until the 18th century.
If you want to drastically alter history and say, the Ottomans want to absorb the former Khanates of the Golden Horde at the same time Poland wants to weaken Russia. This would work best in the 16th or 17th century before the Ottomans and Poles declined and the Russians began to modernize. The best opportunity would be the Ottomans focus on expanding into Russia instead of Austria. Though this is problematic, the Hapsburgs held the Hungarian crown, they would naturally try to retake said lands. If the Ottomans never expanded into Hungary, they would have a constant threat to their Balkan territories. There is also the problem that in real life, wars with Persia and Austria strained the empire's resources. A third major front would probably be too much.

A good opportunity was in 1569; a plan had been devised at Constantinople for connecting the Volga and Don rivers by a canal, and in the summer of 1569 a large force of janissaries and cavalry was sent to lay siege to Astrakhan and begin the canal works, while an Ottoman fleet besieged Azov. However, a sortie of the garrison of Astrakhan drove back the besiegers. A Russian army of 15,000 men attacked and scattered the workmen and the Tatar force sent for their protection, and the Ottoman fleet was destroyed by a storm. Early in 1570 the ambassadors of Ivan the terrible concluded at Constantinople a treaty which restored friendly relations between the Sultan and the Tsar. After this the Ottomans were busy with the Holy League and other wars. If they had won this easily the canal could have supported operations up the volga and possibly gave rise to further campaigns, possibly including an alliance with Poland.
If this happened it would have to happen between 1569-1572. In 1569 Poland became truly unified with Lithuania, putting it in a strong state but this fell apart with the last hereditary king's death in 1572, which led to the elective monarchy, which was largely disastrous for Poland. So alternatively maybe the Polish king is interested in expansion and either doesn't die for a while or has a competent heir also interested in expansion.

The Ottomans working with a Christian power against another Christian power isn't unusual. They worked with France against other European states for decades.