The Emergence of Modern Russia, 1801-1917

By Sergei Pushkarev; Robert H. McNeal et al. | Go to book overview
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The World War
and the Opening of the Revolution

Wartime Diplomacy, 1914-1917

The fateful week between the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia and the German ultimatum to Russia was filled with feverish diplomatic activity. Heads of states, foreign ministers, and ambassadors exchanged countless telegrams, notes, and reports, endeavoring to avert the imminent catastrophe. Only the Austrian leaders were unshaken in their decision to crush Serbia. On July 30 NS, Count Leopold von Berchtold told the British Ambassador in Vienna, de Bunsen, that "he only [sic] refused to discuss the Austro-Serbian quarrel with Russia, but he is willing to discuss with the latter all questions directly concerning Austria and Russia." To the urgent German proposals for a compromise solution on the basis of a "halt in Belgrade," the Austrian government did not give any reply. Then came the Russian mobilization that frustrated German plans to localize the military conflict. Germany's reaction was swift and far-reaching, and an avalanche of war declarations followed.

Having presented her ultimatum to Russia on July 18 (31), Germany sent to Paris a demand for a declaration of neutrality. The French government, ready to fulfill its obligations as an ally of Russia, answered on July 19 (August 1) that "France will act in accordance with her interests," and two days later Germany declared war on France. England at first remained on the sidelines of the conflict. When Sazonov of Russia turned to the English ambassador in Petersburg with an appeal for support, following the Austrian declaration of war against Serbia, Sir George Buchanan replied that England


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