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[[File: Marten's Poltava.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Painting of the battle of Poltava]]
After the Russians defeat at Holowczyn, they dramatically changed tactics. Peter the Great and his generals adopted a cautious strategy. They decided to avoid a set battle with Charles whose army though inferior was much superior in terms of experience and training. Instead they adopted delaying tactics knowing that the Swedes would suffer in the Steppes during the winter <ref> S Sebag-Montefiore. The Romanovs (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 2015), p. 114</ref>. They also concentrated on attacks on Charles XII supply line and reinforcements. This effectively weakened the invading army. Perhaps the most brilliant piece of strategy in the war was the Russians unexpected attack on the Cossacks. This was to leave Charles isolated during the Steppes at the onset of winter. Tsar Peter the Great and his inner circle, developed a strategy that avoided direct confrontation<ref> Derry, p. 213</ref>. Their patience was rewarded and the hungry and cold Swedish army was forced to gamble on a battle at Poltava to quickly win the war. This was a disaster and it sealed the fate not only of the Swedish invasion but also the Swedish Empire. The strategy of Peter was to a large extent like that adopted by Tsar Paul I against Napoleon and by Stalin during Hitler’s invasion.
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.