Two hundred years after the key battle of the French-Russian war, thousands of enthusiasts are reenacting the clash.

The Battle of Borodino, in which Napoleon Bonaparte's army fought against czarist troops and Cossacks, claimed at least 70,000 lives by most estimates. It was glorified in Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace."

The battle, which took place about 100 kilometers (65 miles) west of Moscow, pushed Russian forces out of position and Napoleon's army eventually seized the capital. But the Russian withdrawal at Borodino had preserved the army's strength and Napoleon was forced to retreat from Moscow a few weeks later.

On Sunday, former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing opened the reenactment, in which almost 3,000 enthusiasts from Russia, France and 20 other countries took part.