This chapter traces the political and economic factors that rendered Armenians key to tsarist imperialism. It focuses particularly on Russia's conquest of Eastern Armenia during the Second Russo-Persian War, on the Lazarev family of entrepreneurs, and on the inconsistent economic policies that governed the commerce of Armenians in several southern Russian regions. The chapter also explores the contingent objectives of an imperial project aimed toward distinct communities of the Armenian diaspora. It illustrates impoverished immigrants from the Ottoman and Persian empires, established merchants in southern Russia, and elite families aspiring for social and political prominence in St. Petersburg and Moscow. It also analyzes how the autocracy both recruited and distrusted Armenians from abroad and promoted and restrained the commerce of Armenians already settled in southern Russian cities.