Piotr Kroll. Belarusian campaign of 1654 (to the battle of Sapialevicy).

Belarusian campaign of 1654 was the beginning of the war terminated by the Andrusau Peace Treaty of 1667. The war broke out in the result of Moscow State’s efforts to separate Ukraine and Belarus from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Moscow used the advantage of weakness of the Commonwealth and Bohdan Chmielnicki’s support to intervene in the Polish–Lithuanian conflict. The encounter was to decide who takes a decisive role in this region of the continent.

Moscow having drawn the conclusions from the previous wars and having secured itself by support of Zaporozhian Cossacks took initiative just in the very beginning of the war. Its aim was to conquer the Belarusian lands eastwards of the rivers of Dzvina and Dniepr with the protruding foreground on the Biarezina. Smalensk was of the greatest importance for Moscow. In order to secure success military forces were positioned in several front lines. In the north, Vilnia was endangered by the capture of Polack and Vitebsk. In the south, actions of Chmielnicki and of the auxiliary Moscow troops forced the Crown Army to stay in Ukraine. Thereby, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was prevented from getting support from the Crown. The very operation on siege of Smalensk was carried out by independent troops: Trubeckoj’s army and the troops separated from the Core Army assisted by the Cossacks under the command of Ivan Zolotarenko. They were to dislodge the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania out of the Biarezina. On the 12th of August Prince Jakov Cerkasski’s troop separated from the Core Army fought a battle of Sklou against Janus Radzivil’s army. The subsequent operations were conducted by Trubeckoj’s troop. It managed to win the battle of Sapialevicy (August, 24) and to dislodge the Army of the Grand Duchy out of the Biarezina. In the result the Moscow Army and Zolotarenko’s Cossacks could siege without impediments a number of towns with Smalensk at the top.

The campaign has not foredoomed the defeat of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the war but in 1654 Moscow succeeded to secure its dominant position at least for the next few years.