23/07/1914 News of the ultimatum arrives in Russia

President Poincaré’s state visit to Russia draws to a close. Last night’s banquet is followed today by a series of military parades. The country air seems to invigorate Viviani, who had been suffering on previous days. The various Russian marching bands all play French revanchist tunes, which greatly pleases Poincaré, whose place of birth has been under German rule since the defeat of 1870. Overall the occasion is a great display of Russian military might and of the unshakeable bond now uniting France and Russia.

In the evening the French and Russian parties return to Kronsdadt and boat out to French battleship the France, for one final banquet before the ship’s departure. Tsar Nicholas and an army of dignitaries dine in splendour with the French.

An Italian diplomat arrives late to the feast. He approaches K.E. Bützow, a senior Russian foreign ministry official, and reports that Austria-Hungary has presented an unacceptably harsh ultimatum to the Serbians. Word circulates among the Russians present (at least).

In St. Petersburg at the same time a request arrives at the foreign ministry from Friedrich Szapáry. The Austro-Hungarian ambassador wants to meet with Sazonov in the morning on a matter of the gravest importance.

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