Peter the Great written by Robert K Massie.
Peter The Great lived from 1672 to 1725. During his reign, Peter the Great was the force to westernize Russia and move it from its medieval culture. Through wars with Sweden and its Baltic Sea empire, Peter won wars to allow Russian access to the Baltic Sea. By removing Swedish control of the Baltic Sea, Russia become a major European force.
In addition to access to the Baltic Sea, Peter also fought wars to get access to the Black Sea through the Ukraine and Crimea. Considering the headline news of the 21st century, it appears not much has changed in 400 years. Only the names have changed.
Note: Peter the Great was read as an eBook. The original hard back edition was 900 pages long. It took me almost the full three week library loan period to finish reading the ebook.