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"The sale of Alaska was not so much an American coup as a matter of expediency for an imperial Russia that was short of cash and unable to defend its own continental coastline."

I know what the sentence is saying. But "not so much an American coup as a matter of" is a little hard to understand. Could you please tell me what " much " modifies?
And please give me some more examples (like "so much + noun. + as + noun.").
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X is not so much Y as (it is) Z.
X is Y to some degree.
X is Z to some degree.
But X is Y to a degree less than X is Z, i.e., X is Z more than X is Y.

What comes to mind first is that X is Z, even though, to a lesser extent, X is Y as well.
While X is Y, that's not as important as the fact that X is Z.

X is not so much Y as Z = X is more Z than Y.

The Civil War was not so much a conflict over slavery as a conflict over States' rights. =
The Civil War was more a conflict over States' rights than a conflict over slavery.

This substance is not so much a sleep-inducing medication per se as a tension reliever which restores natural sleep patterns. =
This substance is more a tension reliever which restores natural sleep patterns than a sleep-inducing medication per se.

Considering what a creative and famous man designed it, this T-shirt is not so much an article of clothing as a work of art. =
Considering what a creative and famous man designed it, this T-shirt is more a work of art than an article of clothing.

Perhaps my comments were not so much an answer to your question as a series of impressions. =
Perhaps my comments were more a series of impressions than an answer to your question.

CJ
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Thank you sooooooo much. Emotion: wink
Your comments were not so much an answer as a kindly enlightenment to me. Emotion: wink