After Russia's loss in the Crimean war in 1856 Russia was forbidden to have any warships in the Black Sea by Treaty of Paris, leaving one of the most important parts of Russia - its only non-freezing sea ports and the area through which most of Russia's sea trade went, unprotected. Hence in the late-1860s Russia started to think about abrogating the terms of the treaty in order to protect its coast against rapidly
deteriorating relations with Turkey. It was obvious that in the beginning the strategy for the Russian fleet would be purely defensive against relatively powerful Turkish fleet and so in the 1869 it was decided to build armored warships to protect the coast and the ports. This where the Rear-Admiral Popov comes in, in the 1860s he was the unofficial head of the shipbuilding in Russia.