Since 1542 Ivan had been greatly influenced by the views of the metropolitan of Moscow, Makari, who encouraged the young tsar in his desire to establish a Christian state based on the principles of justice.Ivan’s government soon embarked on a wide program of reforms and of the reorganization of both central and local administration.The 24-year-long Livonian War had proved fruitless for Russia, which was exhausted by the long struggle.
From that moment onward, the Volga became a Russian river, and the trade route to the Caspian Sea was rendered safe.
In 1558 he went to war in an attempt to establish Russian rule over Livonia (in present-day Latvia and Estonia).
Russia was at first victorious and succeeded in destroying the Livonian knights, but their ally Lithuania became an integral part of Poland in 1569.
The war dragged on; while the Swedes supported Poland against Russia, the Crimean Tatars attacked Astrakhan and even made an extensive incursion into Russia in 1571; they burned Moscow, leaving only the Kremlin standing.
When Stephen Báthory of Transylvania became king of Poland in 1575, reorganized Polish armies under his leadership were able to carry the war onto Russian territory while the Swedes recaptured parts of Livonia.