Sergei Sazonov has been Russia’s foreign minister since 1910. He played his part in the crisis that led to this war’s outbreak and continued to guide his country’s foreign policy afterwards. Russian politics has become increasingly tense since then, with arch-conservatives facing off against those who favour a more liberal course. Sazonov is on the liberal side, but the conservatives are in the ascendant, as they have the support of Tsarina Alexandra and Rasputin, her spiritual advisor.
In an effort to bolster foreign support for Russia, Sazonov has come up with a plan to offer Poland autonomy after the war. This could also undercut German and Austro-Hungarian efforts to recruit Poles into their armies. He puts his proposal to the Tsar, who is probably unsure what to make of it. The Tsarina however is furious, seeing Polish home rule as a dangerous concession too far. She reminds her husband of his duty to maintain his autocratic rule. And so the Tsar acts, dismissing Sazonov from the government.
Sergei Sazonov (Today in World War I)
Rasputin, the Tsar, and the Tsarina (Wikipedia)