30/7/1914 The Tsar orders general mobilisation again, for real this time

Yesterday the Tsar ordered general mobilisation and then cancelled the order shortly afterwards. Today he is trying to hold firm to not mobilising, refusing even to talk to people he thinks might try and cajole him into changing his mind again. But he agrees to meet Sazonov in the afternoon, for a briefing on the general situation from his foreign minister.

When they meet, Sazonov impresses on his master that Germany is clearly angling for war. Russia’s mobilisation would be a sensible precaution, not something that would provoke further escalation. The Tsar is torn, not wanting to set in train events that will lead to armageddon. Yet finally he gives in and authorises the general mobilisation of Russia’s army against both Austria-Hungary and Germany. It is agreed that mobilisation will be kept secret for as long as possible, to give Russia as much of a head start on its enemies as possible.

The French ambassador is informed. He wires home the news. This is important, because under the terms of the Russo-French alliance, the two countries are to launch joint invasions of Germany on the 15th day after mobilisation begins.

Sazonov himself wires Benckendorff, his ambassador in London. He is to make urgent representations to the British regarding two battleships being built there for Turkey. Their transfer to the Turks must be stopped, as this would drastically alter the naval balance of power in the Black Sea.

Dramatis Personae

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