Russian Foreign Policy During Nicholas I Part 5
The repercussions on Russian foreign policy were profound. Once again led back to Europe, it abandoned its maximum program in the Far East, only trying to secure the de facto situation, through the 1907 agreement with Japan, which ensured “the territorial integrity of both powers in Asia” ; and on European soil, the failed attempt of the German emperor, Wilhelm II, of a Russian-German alliance, a prelude to a vast continental grouping with an anti-English function (Bjørkø, July 1908), thanks to the efforts of French diplomacy she finally succeeded to reach a rapprochement with England.
According to Remzfamily, the diminished Russian danger in Asia and, conversely, the increased Anglo-German tension in Europe (it was in the aftermath of the Moroccan crisis of 1905) allowed the stipulation of that series of Anglo-Russian agreements regarding Persia and Afghānistān (1907), which, putting an end, at least momentarily, to the Anglo-Russian rivalry, gave birth to the Triple Entente.
The first test, however, was not very happy both for the new European grouping and in particular for Russia: and it was the crisis caused by the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austria (October 1908). With regard to the Balkan question, Russian politics in the period 1895-1905 had been characterized by a renewed collaboration with Austria (agreement of 1897 and especially the Mürzsteg convention in 1903): the two countries had sought, especially in the Macedonian question, ‘to impose its directives on other powers.
Now the new Russian foreign minister, Izvolskij, anxious to find compensation in Europe for the Russian defeats in Manchuria and thus turning back to the problem of the Straits, decided to agree with Austria in the sense of allowing the latter to annex the Bosnia-Herzegovina to have a free hand in turn in the question of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. On September 15, 1908, an interview took place in Buchlau between the Austrian foreign minister, Aehrenthal, and the Russian foreign minister, Izvolskij: an interview whose precise content is not known, but which was invoked by Austria as a Russian recognition of Austrian law. to annexation. It is certain that the immediate action of the Austrian government surprised the Russian government like the other European governments; and the impression was further aggravated by the fact that Ferdinand of Bulgaria proclaimed Bulgarian independence (5 October) and assumed the title of king. Izvolsky’s attempt to provoke a meeting of a European congress failed in the face of the outspoken refusal of Austria backed by Germany; and even when in March 1909 the government of Vienna imposed an ultimatum on Serbia to acknowledge the fait accompli, the Russian government gave in.
Another major diplomatic setback for Russia, now irremediably enemy of Austria: and therefore, in addition to strengthening its ties with France and England, it also draws closer to Italy, which had instead been threatened in its Balkan interests by politics of Austro-Russian understanding of the immediately preceding period (especially from the Mürzsteg convention): on 22 October 1909 the Emperor Nicholas II met with King Vittorio Emanuele III in Racconigi, and two days later a secret agreement was concluded between Italy and Russia. For it, the principle of maintaining the status quo in the Balkans is reaffirmed, or, if the status quo cannot be maintained, the principle of applying the right of nationality and the exclusion of any foreign dominion;
The Russian government had the revenge of the 1908 checkmate in 1912. The Balkan League was largely the work of Petersburg, whose agents, officers and secretaries, carried out a feverish activity to bring the governments of Belgrade, Sofia and Athens: and the victorious outcome of the war against the Turkish empire (see Balkans, wars) meant the full revenge of Slavism, protected and fomented by Russia, against the humiliation of 1908-1909. Less favorable to the Russian government was the course of events in 1913, due to both the breaking of the Balkan league and the Greek-Serbian-Romanian war against Bulgaria which, defeated, was brought back into the orbit of Austria, the great enemy. of Serbia; and also because in the Albanian question, in which Montenegro and Serbia were so closely interested, the Russian government was forced to abandon the claims of its two proteges in the face of the Austro-Italian attitude: especially in the face of Montenegro, so in the question of Shkodra the government of Petersburg had to join in the ultimatum against King Nicholas II, in May 1913.
But by now the international situation, deeply shaken by the collision between the two great rival groupings (the Austro-German one, on the one hand, the Franco-Anglo-Russian one on the other) was about to precipitate. And the action of the Russian government undoubtedly contributed a great deal to this, whose attitude, thanks to both its foreign minister, Sazonov, and especially his representative in Paris, Izvolsky, and the military high commanders, had acquired more and more character. clearly hostile to Austria and Germany, and a very firm resolution to prevent – if necessary by force – any further Austrian move in the Balkans, managing to secure full French support in this.
The events of July 1914 (see world war) had to demonstrate how by now the war party had taken over in Russia as well.