23/7/1914 Sazonov tries again to warn Austria-Hungary to leave Serbia alone

After receiving worrying reports from Italy last night of Austrian plans to annihilate Serbia, Sazonov hurries into St. Petersburg. At 4.00 a.m. the foreign minister writes a telegram to Shebeko, the Russian ambassador in Vienna. Shebeko is to “cordially but firmly” warn the Austro-Hungarians that Russia will not tolerate any moves by them against Serbia. Shebeko is to let the Austro-Hungarians know that France stands with Russia on this.

Sazonov’s telegram is not decoded in the Russian embassy in Vienna until 3.00 p.m. The ambassador is out of town, but the chargé d’affaires races over to the foreign ministry to seek an urgent appointment with Berchtold. But there he is rebuffed. The foreign minister is busy this afternoon; can the chargé d’affaires come back at 11.00 a.m. the following morning?

Berchtold is busy. He is fine-tuning the timing of the issuing of Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia. He has heard that Poincaré’s departure from Russia has been delayed, so he directs the Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Belgrade to wait until 6.00 pm before issuing the ultimatum. That should be too late for news to reach Poincaré before his departure.

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