26/7/1914 While the Russian army assembles, Sazonov has friendly conversations

In the morning, Sazonov and Pourtalès bump into each other at the train station in Tsarkoe Selo, from where they are both travelling into St. Petersburg. Sazonov invites the German ambassador to travel with him. Their conversation today is cordial, with Sazonov affirming that Russia has no desire for war. Pourtalès says that Austria-Hungary does not want to eliminate Serbia. He suggests that the Russian foreign minister talk to Szapáry, the Austro-Hungarian ambassador.

Sazonov does indeed meet Szapáry, for another cordial conversation. Szapáry claims that Austria-Hungary has no interest in conquest and is merely seeking to defend itself. The Russian foreign minister mentions the ultimatum; it is generally agreeable, but acceptance of the provisions allowing for Austro-Hungarian officials to oversee operations in Serbia would most likely see Prime Minister Pašić overthrown by ultra-nationalists. Sazonov suggests a moderation of these terms, but Szapáry has no authority to discuss this. Later in the day, Sazonov telegrams his ambassador in Vienna, ordering him to request Berchtold to authorise Szapáry to discuss amendment of the ultimatum.

But for all Sazonov’s friendly chats with foreign ambassadors, the increasing military preparations in Russia do not go unnoticed. Both Pourtalès and Szapáry report home that the military wheels are turning, with Pourtalès suggesting that something akin to mobilisation may be in train. In the evening he meets again with Sazonov, to protest against these alarming military preparations. Sazonov assures him that there will be no mobilisation unless Austria-Hungary makes hostile moves towards Russia.

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