Count Valerian Aleksandrovich Zubov (Russian: Валериан Александрович Зубов; 1771–1804) was a Russian general who led the Persian Expedition of 1796. His siblings included Platon Zubov and Olga Zherebtsova.
As a young man Zubov had flattering prospects of a brilliant military career due to his brother Platon's ascendancy at Catherine II's court. He was reputed by contemporaries as "the handsomest man in Russia". The legend has it that the aged Empress flirted with him, secretly from his brother.
During her reign he was much lionized as a military hero of incredible valor. He was appointed General-Major and sent to assist Suvorov in quelling the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, where he was said to treat both the Polish noblemen and their wives brazenly and "in the most lowly manner".
During this stay in Poland, he married Teodor Lubomirski's granddaughter and lost his leg in a toy battle. Several months before Catherine's death, 24-year-old Zubov was invited to take charge of the army heading for Persia.
The expedition had been engineered by both Zubov brothers and was aiming at the conquest of all Asia up to Tibet. The 13,000 Russian troops set out from Kizlyar in April 1796 and stormed the key fortress of Derbent on 10 May. The event was glorified by the court poet Derzhavin in his famous ode; he was later to comment bitterly on Zubov's inglorious return from the expedition in another remarkable poem, meditating on the fleeting nature of fortune and success.
By mid-June, Zubov's troops overran without any resistance most of the territory of modern day Azerbaijan, including three principal cities — Baku, Shemakha and Ganja. By November, they were stationed at the confluence of the Araks and Kura Rivers, poised to attack mainland Iran. It was in that month that the Empress of Russia died and her successor Paul, who detested the Zubovs and had other plans for the army, ordered the troops to retreat back to Russia.