Russia’s interest in the north Caucasus intensified during the reign of Catherine the Great. She appointed Prince Grigory Potemkin as viceroy of the Caucasus even though Russia only controlled a small part of it. Further military campaigns in the 1780s led to Muslim resistance in the north Caucasus and one of the resistance leaders, Shaykh Mansur declared a holy war.
In 1795 Tiblisi, the capital of Georgia, a christian country with powerful Islamic neighbours, was sacked by a Persian army. In 1801, at the request of Georgy XII, Georgia was annexed into the Tsarist empire. This now provided Russia with a power base in the Transcaucasus to support any further incursions into the North Caucasus.
Resistance from tribes in Dagestan, Chechnya and Avaria increased but from 1801-1832 Russian campaigns in the region tended to be sporadic, mainly because of wars at that time with Sweden, France, Persia and the Ottoman Empire. In the 1830s Islamic resistance intensified under a new leader, Imam Shamil.