In St. Petersburg, Sazonov returns from his country estate to learn that Szapáry, the Austro-Hungarian ambassador, wishes to meet him. A meeting has tentatively been arranged for that morning. Sazonov and Schilling, his chief of staff, discuss the matter and agree that Austria-Hungary must be cautioned against any action that threatens Serbia.
But when Sazonov meets Szapáry, he does not allude to any possible Austro-Hungarian moves against Serbia. Sazonov is more interested in discovering what the Austro-Hungarians know of his awareness of their intentions. For his part, Szapáry wants to know if the Russians have got wind about the planned ultimatum to Serbia. The two men converse, each seeking to find out what the other knows without revealing his own secrets. In doing so, they avoid any discussion of the pressing issues of the day.