Diplomat and military officer who served the empress Catherine II the Great by greatly increasing Russian influence over Poland before that country was partitioned and who later distinguished himself in the wars against the Turks.
The grandson of Anikita Ivanovich Repnin who had been a noted general during the reign of Peter I the Great he entered the army and in 1762 was appointed ambassador to Berlin by Peter III.
In November 1763 Catherine (who had overthrown Peter in mid-1762) transferred him to Warsaw where he tried to assert Russian dominance over the weak Polish government.
In pursuit of this goal he encouraged the formation of the Confederation of Radom (June 1767) an armed league consisting of pro-Russian Polish magnates who opposed their king and his efforts to strengthen the Polish political system by reducing their powers. When the confederation seized Warsaw and summoned a Sejm (Parliament or Diet, 1768) Repnin with the aid of Russian troops compelled the Sejm to renounce all reform programs, grant full political and religious liberties, and accept the principle that Russia had the right to intervene if these provision were violated.
As a consequence civil war broke out in Poland and the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia. Repnin was removed from his post in Warsaw and sent to fight the Turks (1768).
After successfully leading a force operating in Moldavia and Walachia he was made supreme commander of the Russian armies in Walachia (1771) and defeated the Turks at Bucharest. After a quarrel with his commander in chief Count P.A. Rumyantsev he resigned his command but later participated in the capture of Silistra (1774) and in the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca which ended the war in 1774.
Assigned then to the post of ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1775-76) he later served as Russian plenipotentiary at the Congress of Teschen (March-May 1779) which ended the War of the Bavarian Succesion.
When war again broke out between Russia and the Turks (1787) he distinguished himself as one of the most outstanding Russian commanders. He defeated the Turks on the Salaca River, capturing the entire camp of the commander in chief Hasan Pasa, shutting Hasan up in the Turkish stronghold of Ismail, and failing to defeat him completely only because of the restrictive orders of the Russian commander in chief G.A. Potemkin.
Succeeding Potemkin in 1791 he routed the grand vizier at Machin and thereby forced the Turks to accept the truce of Galati (Aug. 11, 1791).
In 1794 Repnin was appointed governor general of the Lithuanian provinces which Russia had acquired in the partitions of Poland.
Subsequently the emperor Paul I promoted him to the rank of field marshall (1796) and sent him on diplomatic missions to Austria and Prussia (1798) in an attempt to draw them into an alliance against revolutionary France.
Unsuccessful Repnin was dismissed from the service upon his return to Russia.