Russian Special Conference. 8 to 21 Feb 1914.

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  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Meeting convened by Czar Nicholas II.
    Foreign Minister Sazanov as chairman.
    For the purpose of discussing “the possibility of the Straits question being opened, even quite possibly in the near future”.

    Final planning conference of Imperial Russia’s leading civilian and military officials before July 1914.

    Serbia was not mentioned. Only passing reference to mobilization timetable against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

    …..Background. August 1913 Russian military planning meeting.
    Naval staff promised army the Black Sea Fleet could provide transport for 127,500 soldiers, 44,000 horses, 288 artillery pieces and 11,200 horse drawn wagons from Odessa to Constantinople. Amphibious fleet would include 115 Russian flagged merchant ships. First echelon comprising an army corps could be ashore by Day 15. Entire force would be ashore within 60 days. This plan was considered inadequate.

    …..Background. By January 1914 the Ottomans had five imported dreadnoughts on order. Three under construction in Britain and two under construction in USA. Delivery of the first British built dreadnought was expected within weeks. Docking facilities for these dreadnoughts were being constructed in Constantinople by British firms (Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth).

    …..Background. Berlin Treaty of 1878 did not allow Russia to send warships through the Dardanelles, even in peacetime.

    Foreign Minister Sazonov admits in his memoirs that February 1914 meeting participants agreed “they considered an offensive against Constantinople inevitable, should European war break out”.

    All war scenarios discussed included assumption that Russia would be fighting the Ottomans.

    Priority of Naval and Army staffs.
    …..Acceleration of mobilization timetable against the Ottomans.
    …..Expansion of Black Sea amphibious forces to include at least three army corps.
    …..Intensified artillery training in the Odessa military district.
    …..Acceleration for landing of first amphibious echelon (1 army corps) to 5 days.
    …..Building or importation of dreadnoughts into Black Sea Fleet.
    …..Extension of Caucasian rail lines up to Oltu on the Turkish border, via Kars and Sarikamis.

    102 million additional rubles approved by Duma (March 1914) for Black Sea Fleet. This was to make fleet capable of carrying out the amphibious operation to seize Constantinople and Dardanelles. Ratified by Czar Nicholas II on 5 April 1914.

    8 March 1914. Bitlis Revolt.
    8,000 Kurds armed and supported by Russia seize the city of Bitlis (SE Turkey. Near Iran.).
    Uprising not put down until 2 April 1914.
    The four most senior Kurdish leaders involved are given sanctuary in Russian consulate after rebellion collapses. Many other Kurdish rebels are caught while attempting to flee to Russian Caucasus.

    By April 1914 Czar Nicholas II, Foreign Minister Sazonov and Naval Minister Grigorevich were pressuring British Government to delay delivery of newly constructed warships to Ottomans. 16 April 1914 British Ambassador Sir George Buchanan received a Russian request to purchase two of the almost completed dreadnoughts.

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