January 1914. Russia considers general European war to seize Constantinople.

Discussion in 'World War I' started by davebender, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    …..Background detail. November 1913.
    Germany sent a modest army assistance team to Constantinople. Approximately similar in size to British naval assistance team already at Constantinople. Normally a routine event but it unsettled Russia that the Ottoman Army might become more proficient just as Russia was considering invasion to seize Constantinople and the Dardanelles.

    6 January 1914. Memo. Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov to Tsar Nicholas II.
    “If our War Minister and our Navy Minister believe it possible to risk complications, in the case, of course, in which France should decide to support us with all her forces and England lent us adequate assistance, we can now today engage on a confidential exchange of views on this question (the occupation and possible partition of the Ottoman Empire) with these two powers.”

    One week later. Russian Council of Ministers meeting.
    Foreign Minister Sazonov.
    War Minister Sukhomlinov.
    Naval Minister Grigorevich.
    Army Chief of Staff Zhilinskii.
    Chairman Kokovtev.
    These ministers openly discuss the possibility of provoking a European conflagration. Only Minister Kokovtsev spoke against war and he was ousted during February 1914.

    Foreign Minister Sazonov informed the council that France’s foreign minister, Theophile Delcasse, had assured him that “France will go as far as Russia wishes”.

    Foreign Minister Sazonov considered British intervention a certainty “in the case of any setbacks in the military operations of Russia and France”.

    Meeting Resolution.
    Resort to war only if “the active participation of both France and England in joint measures were assured.”

    Special conference to be held in St. Petersburg 8 to 21 February 1914 to further discuss developments.
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That is very interesting, I'd never heard or even thought about this.
     
  3. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #3 michaelmaltby, Jan 31, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
    Great post db .... :)

    "...Resort to war only if “the active participation of both France and England in joint measures were assured.”

    Boy, that resonates forward to Geo W B jr. - trying to get UN buy-in for GW2.

    Weak (rotten) as Turkey was, Russia couldn't have taken them on alone -- Russia was collapsing, too.
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it would have been an interesting fight to see which one collapsed first.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    1877 to 1878. Russo-Ottoman War.
    Russian battlefield victories allowed them to impose a harsh peace treaty.
    …..Large autonomous Bulgaria.
    …..Independence for Serbia, Romania and Montenegro.
    …..Surrender of Ottoman territory in Caucasus and the Balkans.

    Britain, Germany and Austria-Hungary judged Russian awarded gains to be excessive. This resulted in the Treaty of Berlin.
    …..Russia awarded Ottoman provinces of Kars, Ardahan and Batumi.
    …..Russia awarded southern Bessarabia.
    …..Independent Bulgaria reduced in size.
    …..Ottoman territory of Kotur transferred to Iran.
    …..Thessaly transferred to Greece.

    1911 to 1913. Ottoman wars with Italy and Balkan nations.

    April 1912. Italian naval attacks in vicinity of Dardanelles.
    Ottomans responded by closing Dardanelles. Economic impact on Russia was devastating as approximately half of their total exports passed through Dardanelles. Russian grain exports (their single most important export commodity) fell 45%.

    6 November 1912. Bulgarian Army comes close to seizing Constantinople.
    This sets off alarm bells in St. Petersburg. Bulgarian control of Dardanelles (and Russian exports) would be as bad as Ottoman control. Russian Ministry of War orders amphibious landing force formed in Sevastopol for the purpose of seizing Constantinople.

    Ottoman success in halting Bulgarian advance caused Russia to call off the November 1912 amphibious invasion. However planning and preparations for seizing Constantinople would continue until late 1917 when Bolshevik coup destroyed the existing Russian Government.

    Meanwhile in northern Iran and Eastern Anatolia…
    The “Great Game” was in full swing and continued unabated into the early 1920s. Britain vs Russia vs the Ottomans and it was violent. 10s of thousands of combatants / insurgents involved. Russia and Britain mostly employed Armenian and Kurd forces.

    1907 Anglo-Russian Entente failed to end the war by proxy. Intense diplomatic efforts barely managed to keep Britain aligned with Franco-Russian alliance. Consequently most Franco-Russian diplomatic efforts during January to August 1914 were concerned with keeping Britain on board.
     
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