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The Editors and Board of Trustees of the Russian Review

Behind the Balkan Wars: Russian Policy toward Bulgaria and the Turkish Straits, 1912-13
Author(s): Ronald Bobroff
Source: Russian Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 76-95
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Editors and Board of Trustees of the Russian Review
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BehindtheBalkanWars:
RussianPolicytoward
Bulgariaand theTurkish
Straits1912-13
RONALD BOBROFF

Avs
societymovestowardthebeginning
of a newmillennium,
it has begunto reflect

nowending,trying
activelyon thecentury
tounderstand
howonehundred
yearsfilledwith
suchtechnological
advances,suchhumanachievement
couldalso havebeenburdened
with
so muchbloodshedanddestruction.
A focalpointforcomprehending
thechangehasbeen
and mustbe theFirstWorldWar. The GreatWarirreparably
theconservative
destroyed
politicalsystemsstillin place in centralandeasternEurope,takingwithit fourgreatempires,andforeshadowed
muchthatwas to comein thenextworldconflict,
bornoutofthe
ofthefirst.Indeed,someofourforemost
muddledresolution
historians
haverecently
set
theirsightson theFirstWorldWar,provoking
readerstothinkoncemoreaboutthecauses
andcoursesofthewar.'
Atthesametime,theongoingBalkancriseshavecalledattention
to Russianactivity
in thearea. WhendiscussingtheRussianFederation'scurrent
to assistSerbia,
attempts
journalistsand commentators
sometimes
referto Russia's traditional
forthe
sympathies
Slavicpeoplesofsoutheastern
in
tounderstand
Europe an attempt
Russia'sintentions.
The
ofthecurrent
juxtaposition
criseswiththenewattention
to theFirstWorldWarsuggesta
usefulavenueof approaching
theproblemof RussianpolicytowardotherSlavic states.
Asidefromtheclimacticdecisiontakenin July1914to go to warostensibly
on behalfof
two
BalkanWarsof 1912-13providean excellentfieldforstudying
Serbia,the
Russia's
relationshipswith the Slavic states in the area. While a good deal of attention
Researchforthispaperwas supported
inpartbya grantfromtheInternational
Research& ExchangesBoard,with
fundsprovided
bytheNationalEndowment
fortheHumanities
andtheU.S. Department
ofState.Fundshavealso
beenprovidedbytheDuke University
GraduateSchool;CenterforSlavic,Eurasian,andEast EuropeanStudies;
CenterforInternational
Studies;andCenterforEuropeanStudies.Noneoftheseorganizations
is responsible
for
theviewsexpressed.
'Niall Ferguson,
ThiePi/yof Waz;:Eq'plainilzg
Wor-ld
WarI(New York,1999); MartinGilbert,ThieFirstWorld
Wazr.
A Cowovlete
History(NewYork,1994);JohnKeegan,ATeFirstWorldWar(NewYork,1999). Datesin this
essayare in New Style.
TheRzissianReview59 (January
2000): 76-95
Copyright
2000 TheRussiavz
Review

Behinid
theBalkan Wars

77

portandtoRussia's
hasbeengiventotheRussiandefenseofSerbiandesiresforanAdriatic
reactionto thepoliticsof the"systemofBalkanalliances,"thishas beendonein relative
oftheTurkishStraits.2
thesecurity
isolationfromone ofRussia'smostvitalinterests:
of theStraitsquestionin
thecentrality
investigation,
Long thesubjectof historical
hasbeenacceptedbyall sidesofthedebate,evenwithsomedifferences
Russiandiplomacy
theneedto containtheexpansionoftheissuevis-a'-vis
overtheprimacy
ofinterpretation
itis
ismof theGermanicempires.3Giventhegeneralacceptanceof theircriticalnature,
has
been
Wars
thattheroleof theStraitsin RussianpolicyduringtheBalkan
surprising
neglected.Theyprovidean excellentexampleof howRussiahad to choose betweenits
and thoseof one of thenewSlavic stateswhoseveryexistenceRussiahad
owninterests
to a roleat theStraits,the
donemuchto assure. WhenfacedwithBulgarianaspirations
to allow theBulgarianspermanent
opposedit,refusing
steadfastly
Russiangovernment
ortheSea ofMarmora.Leading
theBosphorus,
theDardanelles,
accesstoConstantinople,
madeclearthathis government
SergeiD. Sazonovrepeatedly
thiseffort,
ForeignMinister
tocontroltheStraitssaveforTurkey
couldallowno power,largeor small,theopportunity
ofthestatusquo attheStraitsforas
Russia. His policywas thepreservation
or,ultimately,
longas possible,untilRussiawouldbe able to takethemoveritself.Thispolicycomplibrought
tokeepBulgariaat a distancefromViennaandultimately
catedRussianattempts
evenattheriskofwiderescalation.These
considerarmedintervention,
Russiatoseriously
in theseareasbutprovedto
Turkish
sovereignty
succeededinpreserving
ultimately
efforts
callingintoquestionthevalueofthepolicyinthe
consequences,
haveunforeseen,
negative
firstplace. Sazonovwoulddo whathe couldforBulgaria,buthe wouldnotpermanently
forSofia'sbenefit.
Russia'sowninterests
sacrifice
in theStraitswas bothcomplexandsharedbyotherstates.Russian
Russia'sinterest
had been seriouslyconcernedwiththeStraitssinceCatherineII had made
policymakers
poweron theBlack Sea. By Sazonov'stime,theireconomicvaluehad
Russiaa riparian
and
of oil, manganese,
Russianproduction
especiallyas southern
increasedsignificantly,
26.1
portsaveraged
coal grew.4In termsoftotalvalueoftrade,over1906-13thesouthern
trade,whiletheBalticportsaveraged30.4 percent
percentof totalRussianinternational
overthosesameyears. Morecrucial,theBlack Sea portswerethegatewaylargelyfor
thenorthern
ports.Thus,at a time
came through
whilethemajority
of imports
exports,
was attempting
to exportas muchas possiblein orderto afford
whenthegovernment
TheDiplonzacyoftheBa.lkanWars,1912-1913 (Cambridge,
20n theBalkanWarssee ErnestC. Helmreich,
Foreignl
Rivalriesand Rutssianz
MA, 1938);AndrewRossos,Rutssiaand theBalkans:Inter-Balkazn
Polic); 1908The Origiins
ofthieWarof1914 3 vols.,ed. andtrans.IsabellaM. Massey
1914(Toronto,1981);LuigiAlbertini,
and the
(London,1952-57), 1:chaps.7-8; and GeorgeB. Zotiades"Russiaand theQuestionof Constantinople
Straitsduring
theBalkanWars"Ba&lkaStudies11:2 (1970): 281-98.
Turkish
(London,1925);SidneyB. Fay,Tlhe
3See,forexample,CountM. Montgelas,ThieCasefortheCenitr-alPowers
War,2 vols. (New York,1929); I. V. Bestuzhev,"Bor'ba v Rossii po voprosamvneshnei
OrigiZisofthe Worl-d
zapiski75(1965): 44-85; V. S. Vasiukov,
pervoimirovoivoiny(1910-1914gg.),"lstoricheskie
politikinakanune
inRossiisskaia
i prolivakh,"
o Konstantinopole
vportteta-kh,
"'Glavnyipriz':S. D. Sazonovi soglashenie
dipnoznatiia
ed. A. V. Ignat'evet al. (Moscow,1992),355-77; andotherscitedbelow.
andtheStraitsQuestion,1905-1914,"inNew
4See D. W. Spring,"RussianForeignPolicy,EconomicInterests,
beloware
inModernRutssian
Perspectives
Historyed. RobertB. McKean(NewYork,1992),217-18. Thefigures
frompp.209-10.

78

RonaldBobroff

criticaltechnological
imports,
maintaining
thatexportroutetookon addedsignificance.
TheTurkish
closureoftheStraitsto all shipping
forabouta monthinAprilandMay 1912,
becauseofan Italianattackon theDardanelles,madetheRussiansevenmoreprotective
of
thisvulnerable
connection
to theMediterranean
Sea.
Russia'snavalinterests
attheStraitsbegantochangeshortly
beforeSazonovbecame
in 1910. Russia'ssouthern
bytheprohibiforeign
minister
coasthadlongbeenprotected
theSultan'spertionagainstthepassageof foreignwarshipsthrough
theStraitswithout
mission,butfromthetimeoftheRusso-Japanese
Warthisprohibition
provedmorea hindrancethana help. Duringthatwar,St.Petersburg
hadbeenunabletosendreinforcements
entente
reduced
fromtheBlackSea tothePacific.Then,although
the1907Anglo-Russian
traditional
fearsofa Britishattackon Russia,technological
advancesandrenewedTurkish
interest
in navalarmscomplicated
Russia's situation.The invention
of thedreadnoughtthananything
elseafloat-quickly
classbattleship-faster,
andbetter-armored
better-armed,
in
on theBlackSea obsolete.AftertheYoungTurksbegantoruleTurkey
madeeverything
intotheBlack
1908,theybeganhavingwarshipsbuiltbroad,whichcouldthenbe brought
theStraits,
theRussianshadto
Sea. Effectively
unabletobringtheirownwarships
through
buttheydidnotpossesscapablesouthern
buildthemthemselves,
until1911-12.
shipyards
Even once theseinstallations
kept
existed,theslow pace of Russiannavalconstruction
of westernandcentralEuropeanshipyards.5
Russiafromcompensating
fortheefficiency
The Straitsregimethusplayeda criticalpartin Russia'ssenseofnationalsecurity.
BeforetheBalkanWars,efforts
had begun. Diplomatically,
to changethissituation
tochangetheStraitsregime.In 1908,Foreign
therehadbeentwonotableRussianattempts
of
Minister
A. P. Izvolskiitriedto exchangeRussianacquiescencetoAustrianannexation
forAustrian
forallowingRussiatomovewarships
BosniaandHerzegovina
through
support
beforeIzvolskiicouldobtaintheagreetheStraits.Austria,
annexedtheprovinces
however,
mentof otherpowers,andtheresultant
diplomatic
crisisdealtRussianprestigea serious
blow.ThelessonthatIzvolskii'ssuccessor,
Sazonov,musthavelearnedfromthiseventwas
andthisonlyinthecontext
ofa panthatuntilRussiawas strong
enoughtoseizetheStraits,
to
when
V.
a
at
the
Straits
would
have
wait.6
N.
Charykov
Europeanconflict,change
Thus,
oftheTurks'distraction
theItalo-Turkish
warby
triedinlate1911totakeadvantage
during
pressingthemto allowRussianwarshipsto pass theStraits,Sazonovrefusedto condone
his attempt,
effort
on thisquestion.7
opposedto makinganyunilateral
Ifthatwardidcome,thearmedforceswerepreparing
to seize atleasttheBosphorus.
In 1885planning
to capturethewaterway.8
Duringthecrisis
beganto sendan expedition
de la Marine(Paris),BB7,
de la Marine,22 December1910,ServiceHistorique
'Casteletdep. 173 toMinistre
of
Industryand Rearmament
in,Russia,1900-1914. TheLustAsulrnent
131,d. c.; PeterGatrell,Governmene,
inEngland,1994),231-32, 286, 303. By 1914 thepace of suchworkhad significantly
Tsarism(Cambridge,
Armaments
and theComingof Was:Europe,1904-1914(Oxford,1996),349.
creased.See David Stevenson,
6On thelinkbetweenEuropeanwarand theStraitssee SergeSazonov,FatefulYears1909-1916 (London,
1928),126-27,242.
70n the"Charykov
andRussianForeignPolicyatConstantinople
Mission"see EdwardC. Thaden,"Charykov
16 (1956/57):25-43.
in 1911,"JournalofCentralEuropeanAffairs
voenno-istoricheskii
1912,Rossiiskiigosudarstvennyi
8Zhilinski
andDanilovrep.6 toSukhomlinov,
23 January
arkhiv(RGVIA),f.2000,op. 1,d. 2220,11.133-37.

BehindtheBalkan Wars

79

overtheTurkishmassacresofArmenians
in 1895-96,St. Petersburg
resolvedto seize the
if
Bosphorus LondonforcedtheStraitsin an attempt
to pushreforms
on thePorte.The
Russiansintendedsuchan actionto preventtheBritishfromsendingits shipsintothe
BlackSea orfromimposing
international
controlovertheStraits,
thusthreatening
Russia's
inkeepingthemclosedtoforeign
interests
warships.9
Opposition
fromtheirFrenchallies,
however,
prevented
Russiafrommakingfinalpreparations
alongtheselines.As theBalkan
Warsbeganin 1912,theRussianarmyandnavywereenergetically
andpreparing
updating
plansandtroopsforsuchan operation,
iftheneedarose.10
Thetemporary
closureoftheStraits
in 1912alsomadeapparent
howconcerned
people
outsideofgovernment
werewiththeStraits.Severalministers
receiveda largenumber
of
letters
andtelegrams
frommerchants,
bankers,
in tradeon theBlack
andothersinterested
Sea, callingon theRussiangovernment
to do something
A widespectrum
tohelpthem.11
of deputiesin theRussianStateDuma also believedthatRussia shouldactivelyworkto
improveitssituation
attheStraits.'2Furthermore,
thepresswas vehement
in itscriticism
ofSazonov'spoliciesandsoughta stronger
line.'3
Buttheexistenceorvolumeofsuchopiniondoes notequalpoweroverpolicy.While
Sazonovwas certainly
awareofthecriticism
andrecognizedtheconcreteconcernsofspecificinterest
groups,he thought
littleof thepressand did notpay it muchheed when
formulating
policy,contrary
totheassumptions
ofmosthistorians.'4
Revealingly,
Sazonov
informed
his representatives
thatnotonlywouldhe notbe bulliedby attacksfromthe
Russianpress,butin facttheattackswouldservehispurposes.The Russiangovernment
hadbeenable "touse statements
aboutapparent
disorder
to inclinecabinetsto theidea of
thenecessityof takingintoaccountthedifficulty
of ourpositionand to fightwiththe
onslaughtof ourpublicopinion."15Whileit couldbe arguedthatthisstatement
was an
to tryto hidethefactthathe was actuallyfollowing
attempt
publicopinionon thisissue,
noneofhisextendedwritings
fromthisperiodbetrayanysympathy
fortheclamorin the
pressorelsewhere,
andinsteadshowfrustration
anddisgust.In contrast,
thereis reasonto
believethatSazonovfeltthathe better
understood
publicopinionthanthepapersdid.'6In
June1913he wroteto Izvolskiiabouthowdifficult
he had foundthiswinterof 1912-13,
whenattackson his policycame fromall sides. He deeplyappreciated
thatNicholasII
had stoodbehindhimthewholetime,forwhichhe feltRussia also oughtto be grateful.
9M.S. Anderson,
TheEasternz
Qiuestion
(London,1966),256-58.
"0See,forexample,materials
in RGVIA,f. 2000, op. 1,d. 2219-2221;andRossiiskiigosudarstvennyi
arkhiv
voenno-morskogo
flota(RGAVMF),f.418,op. 1,dd.734,784,and2936,andf.418,op. 2, dd.260,267,and273.
"See thematerials
receivedin Rossiiskiigosudarstvennyi
istoricheskii
arkhiv(RGIA), f. 1276,op. 7, d. 469b.
Forthematerials
receivedbyS. I. Timashev,
minister
oftradeandindustry,
seeTimashevletter
3636 toKokovtsov,
23 April1912,ibid.,1.43, senttoSazonovas letter2204 on 25 April1912.
'2K.F. Shatsillo,Russkiii~nperializin
irazveitijeota(1906-1914gg.) (Moscow,1968), 194-96.
'3Bestuzhev,
"Bor'ba"55ff.
'4See,forexample,Rossos,Rilssiaand theBalkans. NotethatGreatBritain'spolicymakers
actedsimilarly
(ZaraB. Steiner,
BritainandtheOnginzs
oftheFirstWorldWar[NewYork,1977]).
'5Sazonovletter678 to Izvolskii,Benckendorff,
et al., 31 October1912,ArkhivvneshneipolitikiRossiiskoi
imperii(AVPRI),f. 151,op. 482, d. 130,11.78-81.
"6SeeDavidM. McDonald,"A Leverwithout
a Fulcrum:DomesticFactorsandRussianForeignPolicy,19051914,"in ImperialRuissian
ForeignPolicy,ed. HughRagsdale(Cambridge,
England,1993),271-72.

80

Ronald Bobroff

Furthermore,
he feltthat"onedeeplycomforting
fact"hadtobe noted:"Thegovernment
as
represented
bymeduring
theBalkancrisismoretruly
reflected
publicopinionofthecountrythandidthenationalist
presswiththeunscrupulous
Novoe vi-enmia
at itshead."'7With
suchan attitude,
itwouldbe easiertocontinue
topaylittleheedtothepress,butatthesame
timeuse itas a toolforgaininggreater
concessionsfromotherstates.
A wholedifferent
setoffactors
wereatworkinBulgaria.RussiahadhelpedBulgaria
gainindependence
fromtheOttomanEmpirein the1870s and 1880s,whichmadefora
strong
feelingofamityamongBulgarianstowardRussia. ButRussia'sconstant
meddling
inBulgarianaffairs
drovethetwostatesapart.After
RussiasucceededinhavingAlexander
of Battenberg
removedfromthethrone,theBulgarianschose,againstRussia's wishes,
Ferdinandof Coburg,a princeand officer
in theAustrianarmy.WhileRussia came to
acceptFerdinand
as PrinceofBulgariaseveralyearsafterhis succession,Ferdinand
often
displayedan alarming
inclination
toward
Viennaas he soughtthemostadvantageous
positionfromwhichto advanceBulgariandesires. Amongthemostimportant
of themwas
territorial
expansiontoreacquirethebordersgiventoitbytheRusso-Turkish
TreatyofSan
Stefanoih 1878,whichhadbeenso quicklyoverturned
bytheGreatPowers.'8ThisaspirationputBulgariaat odds withtheOttomanEmpire,whichstillpossessedtheland that
Sofiawanted,and withGreeceand especiallySerbia,whichhad theirown aspirations
to
landtheBulgariansclaimedinMacedonia.As unrest
inAlbaniaandMacedoniagrewinthe
yearsleadingto 1911,followedbytheItalianwarwithTurkeythatyear,Bulgariaandthe
otherBalkanstatesreconsidered
theirmutualdisagreements
and signedtreaties,
uniting
themto endTurkishpowerin Europe. Theyhopedto divideup itsterritory
whileTurkey
was distracted
bywarelsewhereandbeforeRussiaandAustiia-Hungary
themselves
inter9
venedandimposeda solutionon thearea. Butmorethanthat,Ferdinand
and somenationalists
hopedforevenmore,especiallytheconquestof Constantinople,
makingit the
Thesedreamswereknown.outside
newcapitalofanevenlargerBulgarianstate.20
Bulgaria
and had forseveralyearsalarmedthemakersof Russianforeign
policy,amongothers.
Withthecommencement
oftheBalkanWars,Bulgariasoughttofulfilthesedreams.
The Ottomangovernment,
of course,was workingin theoppositedirection.After
decadesofdecay,a groupofnationalist
ofthe
Turkish
officers
seekingtherecentralization
stateandreestablishment
ofTurkish
strength,
seizedpowerin 1908-9. Theforeign
policy
ofthese"YoungTurks"(officially,
theCommittee
ofUnionandProgress)dealtprimarily
withresisting
theterritorial
expansionof theBalkanstates-at Turkishexpense-and reinprivileges
knownas
ducingtheinfluence
oftheGreatPowersovertheirnation,enshrined
capitulations.22
Whiletheleadingmembers
of theleadershipdisagreedabouttheoverall
orientation
Ottomanforeignpolicy,suspicionof Russia's intentions
towardtheStraits
'7SazonovlettertoIzvolskii,26 June1913,AVPRI,f. 340,op. 835,d. 39, 11.35-36.
"8Anderson,
227-31; BarbaraJelavich,
RussiasBvalkalz
1804-1914(CamEasterlzQutestion,
Enitaglemnelits
bridge,England,1991),chap.5.
'9Rossos,RussiaanidtheBalkaws,chaps.1 and 2.
20A.Nekludoff,
beforeanlddurbitg
theWorldWas;1911-1917(London,1920),116Reminisiscelces
Diplomnatic
20.
21See Bax-Ironside
letter22 toGrey,24 February1912,inBritishl
Documniewts
ol tileOfigiisoftheWa;;18981914 (BD) (London,1933),9.1, no. 554; andRossos,Rutssia
alndtze Bzalkazns,
87-90.
22F.A. K. Yasamee,"Ottoman
Empire,"inDecis/oiisforWM;;
1914,ed. K. Wilson(London,1995),229-68.

BehindtheBalkan Wars

81

andArmeniaremainedstrong,
andtheTurkish
government
tendedto seekbetterrelations
withGermany
andAustria-Hungary,
whilepreserving
beneficial
tieswithGreatBritainand
France.23

Theinterests
oftheothergreatpowersintheStraits
questionvaried.GreatBritainhad
been Russia's traditional
opponenton theproblemand had long soughtto keep Russia
bottledup in theBlack Sea to protect
Britishlinesofcommunication
to India. Butbythe
of thetwentieth
beginning
newfactorswerealtering
century
London'sviews. The existenceoftheFranco-Russian
alliancemeantthatwarwithRussiawouldbringwarwithFrance,
thevalueoftheStraitssincetheFrenchfleetwouldbe able tothreaten
reducing
theRoyal
if
even
the
Straits
were
bottled
Navy
up. Increasingly
navalthinking
sophisticated
and a
strengthening
positioninEgyptmadetheAdmiralty
lessworriedaboutitsabilitytoprotect
accesstoBritain'sAsianempire.A fewmembers
oftheForeignOfficewerealreadybeginningatthistimetolinktheirpositioninPersiawiththeRussianpositionatConstantinople,
butreadinessto makea quid pro quo wouldcome onlyonce WorldWarI had begun.24
Frenchpolicymakers
weremoreconcernedat thistimewithTurkey'sfinancialsituation
andtheirinterests
in whatis nowSyriaandLebanon.25Decades ofinvestments
hadgiven
themlargeandoftencontrolling
stakesin a variety
of Ottomanagricultural
andindustrial
ventures,
Pariswas thusveryanxiousto avoidoffending
mining,andinfrastructure.
the
Turkish
totheextentthatitsinfluence
government
orreturn
on investment
was threatened,
wouldbenefit
fromtheshift.But theFrenchalso hopedthatthe
especiallyif Germany
wouldremainclosed,toprevent
Straits
anychangeinthebalanceofnavalpowerthatwould
comeifRussiacouldbringitswarshipsoutof theBlack Sea.26 France-Russia's allythusprovedtobe a biggerobstaclethanRussia'sold rival,GreatBritain.
ForGermany
andAustria-Hungary,
theOttomanEmpirerepresented
a possiblepartnerin containing
Russianexpansionand limitingits pan-Slavactivitiessince all three
statesstoodto lose fromRussiansuccess. In Germany's
case,Turkeyalso serveda colonial purposeas its dreamsof an Africanempirefaded.Germanyinvestedheavilyin
mostnotablytheBerlin-to-Baghdad
railwayprojects,
railroadproject,whichwouldserve
as a meansofeconomicpenetration
andof spreading
Germaninfluence
theOttothrough
manEmpireas it further
weakened.Austria-Hungary,
however,
feltfarmoreambivalent
thanGermany
did abouttheTurksthemselves.Viennaopposedthepartition
oftheOttoman Empire,includingRussia's gain of theStraits,whiletheyhad no footholdin the
empirethatwouldfalltothemincase ofitsdisintegration.
Turkey'sassistanceagainstthe
Balkanstateswas whatinterested
theAustrians
themost.27

Russiaand theBa.lkans,13-15.
23Rossos,
24Keith
Neilson,Britainand theLast Tsar(Oxford,1995); 114-15,233, 284; Geoffrey
Miller,Stonits:
British
Pokicy
towaidstheOttoman
Empireand theOrigtnsoftheDaIdanellesCampaign(Hull, 1997),pt.3.
25John
F. V. Keiger,FranceauidtheO-Igidns
oftheFirstWordWar(NewYork,1983),74.
26L.BruceFulton,"Franceand theEnd of theOttomanEmpire,"in Tie GreatPowvers
and theEnd of the
Ottotnan
Empire,ed. MarianKent(London,1984),141-71.
27F.R. Bridge,"TheHabsburgMonarchy
andtheOttoman
Empire,1900-18,"in Kent,TheGreatPowers,3151.

82

Ronald Bobroff

BEFORE THE WAR


Fearingarmedconflicton theBalkanPeninsuladuringthesummerof 1912, theGreat
lookless
wartohelpTurkey
foran endtotheItalo-Turkish
Powersincreasedtheirpressure
Sazonovsoughttowardoffanythreat
totheBalkanallies. Beyondtheseefforts,
vulnerable
with
andtheStraitsalongtwolines:first
ofchangeincontrolandaccesstoConstantinople
theGreatPowers,andsecondwithBulgaria.
theStraitsfrombecominga topic
minister
soughttoprevent
First,theRussianforeign
however,
he refusedto takeany
of discussionamongtheGreatPowers. Simultaneously,
in thefateof these
stepthatmightsuggestthatRussia had washedits handsof interest
developedmostclearlyin threehigh-levelmeetings
Turkishpossessions. These efforts
in July,
August,and September1912.
withtheGerman,French,andBritishgovernments
didSazonovraisetheStraitsas a subjectforseriousdiscussion,
In noneofthesemeetings
forRussiato have soughtnew
eventhoughthesewouldhavebeenperfectopportunities
of supportfora changein theStraitsregime. At thesame time,however,
declarations
thatthePowersdeclaretheir"disintocooperatewithFrenchsuggestions
Sazonovrefused
bysuspiintheregion:he sensedandresented
thattheFrenchweremotivated
terestedness"
totrample
uponSlavicsensibilicionofRussianmotives;andhe believeditimpermissible
Russianinterests
thereas well.28
tiesin theregionandto sacrifice
to
minimize
discussion of the Straits and
This extended effortby Sazonov
as the
thathe ignoredtheissue. On thecontrary,
does notmean,however,
Constantinople
threatof waron theBalkanPeninsulagrewmoreserious,so too did theRussianfearof
bythe
BulgarianactionagainsttheTurkishcapital. Thisthreatwas enhanced,ironically,
alliancesundertheir
of a systemof military
Russians'own actions-theencouragement
increasedthechancesofa
aegisamongBulgaria,Serbia,Greece,andMontenegro-which
ofthosealliedstatestooptfor
overtheOttoman
Empireandreducedthehesitation
victory
war.29Addingto theirony,one of thefactorsbehindtheRussiansupportfora Balkan
Butas itgrew
ofthestatusquo attheStraitsandConstantinople.30
alliancewasprotection
ofthese
control
through
1912thatBulgariaposeda dangertoTurkish
increasingly
apparent
Constantinople.In
againstcapturing
areas,Sazonov warnedtheBulgariangovernment
May he toldBulgarianleaderS. DanevthatRussiacouldnotcondoneanyBulgarianconBulgariaandConstantinople),
citybetween
Adrianople
(thelastfortress
queststhatincluded
Sazonov cautionedtheBulgariansthatRussia
or pointsbeyond.3'Duringthesummer,

in BD, 9.1; Mezhadunarodnye


v epo/lzuimperializma
(MO) (Moscow,
otnoshentia
28Seethecorrespondence
(1871-1914)(DDfi) (Paris,1931-34),3.3,for
1939-40),ser.2, 20.1-2; andDocuments
Era/ifCaires
Diplornatiques
1912.
June-September
at thetime.See O'Beirneletter
wereveryawareofthispossibility
29TheRussians,andSazonovin particular,
416 to Grey,14 October1912,BD, 9.1, no. 193.
oftheBalkanLeague see Rossos,Russiaand theBalkans,Helmreich,
300ntheRussianrolein theformation
Park,PA, 1965),
andE. C. Thaden,Russia and theBalkanAlliance(University
DiplomacyoftheBalkan Warr,
chaps.3 and4.
toNicholasII,
299 toNekliudov,
23 May 1912,MO, 20.1,no. 64; andSazonovmemorandum
3'Sazonov letter
10 May 1912,MO, 19.2,no. 878.

BehindtheBalkan Wars

83

theTurksthereandturned
butiftheydefeated
tostopthematAdrianople,32
wouldendeavor
"Russiawouldbe obliged,"Sazonovsaid,"towarnthemoff,as, though
toConstantinople,
she could notallow anyother
she had no desireto establishherselfat Constantinople,
to controltheprocessof
unable
was
as
Russia
long
As
of
it."33
Powerto takepossession
remainTurkish.He believedthatall Ruschange,SazonovdemandedthatConstantinople
to arrestthe
at Sofiaandthatwouldsuffice
an ultimatum
sia neededto do was to "present
in theweightof Russia's
This overconfidence
advanceof theBulgarianarmy."34
further
ofthelargerRussiandelusionthattheycoulddictatetheactions
is symptomatic
warnings
of theSlav peoplesin theBalkans. Muchto theRussians'chagrin,theywouldfindthat
theywerealmostas powerlessto setlimitsto theBalkanstates'expansionas theywereto
themfromgoingto war. ButBulgariaenteredtheFirstBalkanWarwellawareof
prevent
andtheStraits.
aboutConstantinople
Russia'sattitude
BULGARIANS AT THE GATES
weeksofthewarandbeyond,theGreatPowerssearchedfora wayto
thefirst
Throughout
as quicklyas possiblewhilekeepingthemselvesout of the actual
Balkan
war
end the
thatanyof themhad
policyprovedmoredifficult
an effective
combat,butformulating
eithersidefromgainbytheneedtoprevent
Sazonov'staskwas complicated
anticipated.35
destabithestatusquo attheStraitsandfurther
so greatthatitmightthreaten
inga victory
theBulgarianarmiesfromseizingtheTurkish
hadtoprevent
lize theregion.He therefore
overBulgaria.Earlyinthe
victory
Turkish
toavoidanexaggerated
capitaland,conversely,
timeagainsttheGermanwarthePowersexpectedtheBalkanarmiesto havea difficult
Turkeyfullcontrolof its
trainedOttomanforces,so theRussiansconsentedto promising
area,whiletherestof itsempirein Europewouldbe subjectto
capitaland surrounding
ofthePorte.36
andkeptunderthenominalsuzerainty
Europeancontrolandreform
success,however,allowedtheGreatPowersto accept
The Balkanallies' surprising
changesat theexpenseoftheOttomanEmpire.The Bulgarianadvanceon the
territorial
alarmed
Chataljalines-the maindefensiveworksbeforeConstantinople-increasingly
the
to
the
Turkish
to
reach
all
way
Sazonovbecauseit seemedto possessthemomentum
whathe saw as Russia's interests.On
capital. Sazonovthussoughtto defineandprotect
in thecapitalsof theGreat
31 Octoberhe senta circularto theRussianrepresentatives
bases
of
Russian
policy.Russiarequired
out
the
setting
the
new
belligerents
of
Powersand
anda regionto its
Constantinople
statusquo couldnotbe preserved,
that,iftheterritorial
west definedlargelyby the MaritsaRiver,includingthe fortresscityof Adrianople,
of the Sultan in guaranteeingthe security
"mustremainunderthe real sovereignty
of Constantinopleand of the related European and Russian interestsof the first
letterto Sazonov,20 July1912,MO, 20.1, no. 216; Doulcettels.443 and 444 to Poincar6,14
32Nekliudov
1912,DDF 3.3,no. 402.
September
letter283 to Grey,18 September1912,BD, 9.1, no. 722.
33Buchanan
34Ibid.
wentto waron 8 October,andBulgaria,Greece,andSerbiaon 17 October.
35Montenegro
letter671 toIzvolskii,23 October1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 130,11.47-50.
36Sazonov

84

Ronald Bobroff

Thiswas nota newdemand,so SazonovexpectedthatBulgariawouldnotmake


order."37
his position.
foritselfandRussiabyignoring
thingsdifficult
First,hewarnedthemagainst
Sazonovtriedtwostrategies.
To persuadetheBulgarians,
theChataljalinessincethatmightcause riotsin thecapital. The powersofEustorming
turnagainstBulropemostdeeplyinvestedthere-BritainandFrance-could thereupon
Thisattempt
tointervention
byAustriaandRumania.38
garia,leavingthelattervulnerable
didnotwork,forLondonandPariswerenotso easily
to scaretheBulgariansintostopping
theymightbe.39Second,withperhaps
swayedagainsttheBulgariansas Sazonovintimated
he pointedoutthata failureof thesiege ofAdrianoplemight
as muchwishfulthinking,
thatthealliescouldreceive.
acquisitions
reducetheterritorial
seriously
Regardlessoftheirreactionto this,SazonovstressedtotheBulgariansandtheGreat
on theSultankeepofRussia'sinsistence
Powersthattherecouldbe no misinterpretation
underhis ownrealcontrol.40
ingthelandfromtheMaritsaRiver,includingAdrianople,
withSan Stefano
"Be content
in St. Petersburg,
toldtheBulgarianminister
He personally
becauseyouwillothunderanycircumstances,
Bulgariaanddo notenterConstantinople
of
he soughtthecooperation
Less directly,
too gravely.'"4'
erwisecomplicateyouraffairs
thatthey,too,pushthe
requesting
on 31 Octoberand 1 November,
his Ententepartners
tohaltitsattacksat theChataljaline,or,failingthat,nottooccupy
Bulgariangovernment
hadtobe the"basis
BritainandFranceagreedthattheSan Stefanoborders
Constantinople.
that
Bulgariainthemanner
opposedpressuring
settlement."42
Both,however,
ofthefuture
wouldallowthe
eitherthatan abandonment
oftheoffensive
theRussiansdesired,fearing
orthatintensepressure"couldalienatetheBulgariansfromthe
forcesto regroup,
Turkish
with[Sofia]."43
PowersoftheTripleEntenteandease forAustriaa separateagreement
Powers
tohalttheBulin
united
action
by
the
persisted seeking
Sazonovnonetheless
theriotsandmassacresacrosstheOttomanEmpire
garians.He hopednotonlytoprevent
butalso to denySofiathe
intoConstantinople,
thatcouldresultfromtheBulgarians'entry
thatpossessionof thecitywouldhandit, since
chip forfuturenegotiations
bargaining
fromConstantinople
onlyifthePowersforcedit to do so.' UltiBulgariamightretreat
thatthecapitalandtheregionaroundit"must
he insistedtotheBritishambassador
mately,
made
remainTurkish
either
[or]becomeRussian,andthatRussiawouldregardanyattempt
Powerto takepermanent
possessionof themas a casus belli."45 In thisway
by another
Sazonovclearlyindicatedhowvitalthelocationwas to Russia;theonlyothereventthat
was an Austrianattack.He
Russianmilitary
intervention
havebrought
mightotherwise
letter678 toIzvolskiiet al., 31 October1912,ibid.,11.78-81.
37Sazonov
31 October1912,ibid.,d. 3699,1.273.
tel.2403 toNekliudov,
38Sazonov
88.
39Rossos,
Russiaand theBalkan-s,
31 October1912.
tel.2403 toNekliudov,
40Sazonov
41Rossos,Ritssiaand theBalkans,87-88.
tel.401 to Grey,1 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 85; Fleuriautel.326 to Poincare,1 November
42Buchanan
tel.288 to Sazonov,1 November1912,Krasnyiarklziv
1912,DDE, 3.4,no. 307; Benckendorff
(KA), 16,no. 47.
1 November
tel.314 to Sazonov,1 November1912,KA, 16,no. 49; Greyletterto Benckendorff,
43Izvolskii
1912,BD, 9.2,no. 92; Bertietel. 189 to Grey,2 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 97.
et al, 2 November1912,Material)po istoriifranko-russkikh
44Sazonov
tel.2423 to Izvolskii,Benckendorff,
1910-l91?4g.g.(FRO) (Moscow,1922),293.
otnos/zeniiza
toGrey,2 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 98.
45Buchanan
privatetelegram

Behindtde Balkan Wars

85

was absolutely
opposedto theBulgariansremaining
atConstantinople
toincorandtrying
porateitintosomelargerBulgarianstate.
But alongwiththisstubbornness,
Sazonov appearedreadyto compromise
in other
areas consideredless vital. On 2 November,
in a privateconversation
withSir George
Buchanan,theBritishambassadortoRussia,Sazonovelucidatedlinesofpolicythatwould
definehis positionfortherestof thecrisis:whileBulgariawouldbe allowedto expand
beyondtheSan Stefanoborders,
to includeevenAdrianople,
theSultanmustcontinueto
possess real sovereignty
overtheStraits,theirshores,and Constantinople,
witha zone
sufficient
foritsdefense.46
On 3 November
thisviewwasconfirmed
ina high-level
meeting
thatincludedSazonov,PrimeandFinanceMinister
V. N. Kokovtsov,
NavalMinister
Adm.
I. K. Grigorovich,
and Chiefof theGeneralStaffGen. I. G. Zhilinskii.Deferring
to the
opinion of the War MinistrythatAdrianople was not essential to the defense of
themembers
ofthemeetingdecidedthatBulgariacouldkeepthecityas a
Constantinople,
ifitdesired.Butto preservehis owndiplomatic
fortress
optionsSazonovtriedto restrict
thisnewsto a smallcircleof people in theEntentecapitals.47As long as thisdecision
remained
secret,Sazonovwouldhavea stronger
bargaining
positionwiththeBulgariansif
thesituation
demandedit.
Indeed,developments
thatthetimemightnotbe faroffwhenhe wouldneed
suggested
tonegotiate
theBulgariansoutofConstantinople.
Fearingthattheywereabouttobe overwhelmedbytheBulgarianforces,on 3 and4 NovembertheTurkishgovernment
pleaded
withthePowersforhelpin forcing
theBalkanalliesto acceptan immediate
armistice
and
theBulgarians,and especiallyKingFerdinand,
preventing
fromentering
Constantinople
andcausingriotsanddestruction.48
Stilltrying
to obtainthecooperation
of his Ententepartners,
Sazonov informed
the
Frenchforeign
minister,
RaymondPoincare,andtheBritishforeign
Sir
secretary, Edward
Grey,thatifConstantinople
werecaptured,
Russiawouldbe forcedto senditsentireBlack
Sea fleetthereatonce. Thusitwouldbe muchbetter
iftheywouldhelppressure
Germany
andAustria-Hungary
toagreeto a generalplanlestRussiabe forcedto deployitsfleet,an
actionthatcouldwellhavepan-European
ButPoincareandGreyrefused,
complications.49
believingthatsuchpressurewas pointlessand mightevenbe counterproductive,
driving
BulgariaintothehandsofAustria-Hungary.50
Withno supportfromhis foreignallies, and withSofia pressingits attacktoward
Sazonov feltobligedto tryto tempttheBulgariansby announcing
Constantinople,
that

46Buchanan
tel.405 to Grey,2 November1912,BD, 9.2 no. 100.
47Buchanan
tel.408 toGrey,4 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 119;Louis tel.511 toPoincare,4November1912,
DDF, 3.4, no. 343; J.Cambontel.393 toPoincare,4 November1912,DDF, 3.4,no. 333.
tel.982 to Sazonov,4 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 3700,1. 92; Sazonov tel.2451 to
48Giers
Izvolskii,4 November1912,tel.2451,ibid.,d. 130,1.94.
49Sazonov
tel.2455 toIzvolskii,4 November
1912,ibid.,11.96-97; Benckendorff
tel.302 toSazonov,6 November1912,in GrafBenckendotffsDiplomawischerSchif/fivec/hsel(GBDS),
ed. B. Siebert(Berlin,1928),2:no.710.
50Poincar6
tel.804 toLouis,2 November1912,DDF, 3.4,no. 313; Izvolskiitel.324 to Sazonov,3 November
1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 3700, 1.49; Benckendorff
tel.295 to Sazonov,2 November1912,in Entente
DivloInacyandtheWorld
-MahixoftheHirtor)
qofEurope,
1909-1914(London,1921),no.448; Poincaretel.810
toFleuriau,5 November1912,DDF, 3.4,no. 349.

86

RonaldBobroff

Adrianopleafterthewar.5' But thisdid not


Russia had no objectionsto theirretaining
that
deflecttheBulgarians'drive,andby6 NovemberSazonovhadbecomeso pessimistic
andBultheFrench,British,
concession:he informed
he appearedtomakethepenultimate
"did notwantto opposethetemporary
thattheRussiangovernment
gariangovernments
thata Turkish
by theallies."52He did pointout,however,
occupationof Constantinople
as theTurkmoredifficult,
negotiations
toAsia Minorwouldmakesubsequent
withdrawal
"andforthePorte,thenecessitywouldnotariseof showing
ish armycouldthenregroup,
Furthermore,
couldnotgetworse."53
thataffairs
whileconvinced
tractability
anyparticular
wouldcompelRussiato
themthatan extendedoccupationofConstantinople
he reminded
untiltheBalkanallies departed.Untilthe
stationitsBlack Sea fleetoffConstantinople
BulgarianarmyfailedattheChataljalineson 17-18November,
attackbytheoverextended
Sazonov continuedto speak in thismannerand, as theFrenchambassadorto Russia,
seemed"resigned"to a Bulgarianentranceinto
GeorgesLouis,putit on 10 November,
eventhoughhe stillrefusedto allowthattheymightremainthere.54
Constantinople,
havebelievedthatSazonovwasreadytoacquiescetoa brief
mosthistorians
Although
raisegravedoubtsabout
rarelyciteddocuments
Bulgarianoccupationof Constantinople,
to see thisoccupationtakeplace.
of SazonovandtheRussiangovernment
thewillingness
Bulgarian
wouldendurea temporary
WhiletellingthePowersthattheRussiangovernment
to landtroopsthere,
theRussiansactuallywerepreparing
occupationof Constantinople,
theEuropeancoloniesandthewiderChristokeeporderin thecityandprotect
ostensibly
Russianplansto occupy
by Izvolskii,who recalledtentative
tianpopulation.Prompted
and the
in 1896-97 and 1908, Sazonov,Kokovtsov,
duringdisturbances
Constantinople
drewclosertothe
As theBulgarians
begantodiscussa similarexpedition.55
NavalMinistry
eachGreatPowerto senda single(thena second)warship
Chataljalines,thePorteinvited
decided
TheRussiangovernment
orderinthecapital.56
tohelpmaintain
to Constantinople
were
communications
to do more. First,between4 and 8 Novemberdirecttelegraphic
oftheBlackSea Fleetin Odessa andtheRussianambetweenthecommander
established
whichwerealreadyon a war
M. K. Giers,so thatwarships,
bassadorin Constantinople,
Second,
couldbe called in withoutwaitingforapprovalfromSt. Petersburg.57
footing,
would
thatthesecondwarshipforConstantinople
Gierson 6 November
Sazonovnotified
containtwocompaniesofsoldiers,someonethousandmen,whichhe also couldcall in at
hisdiscretion.Notingthatitwouldbe desirableforthetroopsto arrivein Constantinople
SazonovaskedGierswhether
tomaintain
order,
lestitbe toodifficult
beforetheBulgarians,

tel.120toGrey,3 November
2 November1912,BD, 9.2,no.99; Bax-Ironside
"Greytel.139toBax-Ironside,
1912,BD, 9.2,no. 109; Buchanantel.412 to Grey,5 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 130.
tel.2474 to Izvolskii,6 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 130,1. 104. See also Rossos,
52Sazonov
Russiaand theBalkans,89.
tel.2474 toIzvolskii.
53Sazonov
54Louistels.517 and518 to Poincar6,10 November1912,DDF, 3.4, no. 411.
no. 430.
letter
to Sazonov,23 October1912,FRO, 289-91; Entente
55Ilzvolskii
Diploinacyand theWorld,
56SeenoteinBD, 9.2, p. 89; andHelmreich,
DiplomacyoftheBalkan Wars,201.
tel.2426 toGiers,2 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 3700,1.30; Sazonovtel.toNicholas
57Sazonov
tel.320 to
ofsamedate,ibid.1.58; Grigorovich
II, 4 November1912,ibid.,1.57; Nicholas'sapprovalon telegram
i prolivy,"
AA,6, 51.
NicholasII, 8 November1912,in Ia. Zakher,"Konstantinopol'

BehindtheBalkan Wars

87

a thousand
menwouldbe sufficient.58
In response,Giersinformed
thata minitheminister
mumoffivethousandsoldierswouldbe neededsimplytoprotect
theEuropeanpartofthe
city.59
Thisfigurewas approved,
thetroopswereprepared,
andthenavy,unabletoaccommodatesuch a largenumberof troopson thesingletrooptransport
it had availableat
twolargesteamers
fromtheVolunteer
Fleetin
Sevastopol,
begantheprocessofchartering
Odessa.60

Amidtheintenseplanning
andpreparation
ofNovember,
Sazonovcomposedtwolong
letters,
justbeforethecommencement
oftheBulgarianattackon theChataljalines. These
toKokovtsov,
letters
theserviceministers,
andGiersof 12 and 14 November
allowa better
not only of the rationalebehindthe plan to land Russian troopsin
understanding
Constantinople
butalso ofhiswiderviewson theStraitsquestion.61First,Sazonovspelled
outwhatwouldbe thegovernment's
fordispatching
official,
publicexplanation
troops:to
maintain
orderandsecurity
"forEuropeansandlocal Christians,
andalso forthenumerous
of a worldcenter,likeConstantinople."62
and interests
enterprises
Since Russia was the
closestGreatPowerand thetraditional
of Christians
in theOttomanEmpire,it
protector
wasnatural
forittobe theonetosendthetroopsforthispurpose.Butthislegitimate
reason
maskedmorepressingissuesthatconcerned
theRussianforeign
hisgovernment,
minister,
andhisemperor.Mostimportant,
Sazonovsaw thisdeployment
as an opportunity
togain
moreinfluence
overthefateof Constantinople
andtheStraitsiftheTurkswereforcedto
retreatto Asia Minor. Sazonov suggestedthatthe longerthe Bulgariansspentin
thegreater
werethechancesthatthefateofConstantinople
Constantinople,
andtheStraits
couldbe decidedin a fashioncontrary
to Russia'sinterests.ThusRussiahad to possess
sufficient
forceto giveit "thedecidingvoice"in anyresolution
of thesematters.63
Here,
then,wasthecruxofthematter:
Sazonovmeanttoemploythelegitimate
needsofthelocal
andEuropeanpopulation
forRussia'sownends:ensuring
thatanyresolution
ofthisissue
wouldaccordwithRussia'sinterests.
Heretoowasoneoftheearliest,
butrarelyidentified,
timesaftertheRusso-Japanese
WarthatRussia consideredemploying
military
forceto
itsdiplomacy.Butgiventhedistancesinvolvedandthepresenceofshipsfromall
support
theotherGreatPowers,Russiawas forcedtomakethesepreparations
in starkconquietly,
trastto theopenmeasuresit was takingalongits westernborderwithAustria-Hungary,
wherethetwonationswereengagedin an armedstandoff,
defending
theirinterests
vis-a'vis Serbia.54At Constantinople,
Russiacouldnotbe sureof its abilityto applyconstant
pressureso was forcedtopreparemoresubtle,ifstillmilitary,
measures.
Sazonov thenexplainedtheresolution
thatwouldbest suitthoseneeds. First,he
dismissedinternationalization
ofConstantinople
andneutralization
oftheStraitsas an insufficient
ofRussia'skeyinterests.Land or sea forcescouldbe usedtoviolate
guarantee
58Sazonov
tel.2473 to Giers,6 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 130,1. 103.
59Giers
tel 1000to Sazonov,7 November1912,ibid.,d. 3700,1. 182.
60Sukhomlinov
toKokovtsov,
19 November1912,letters1735and 1736,RGIA,f. 1276,op. 8, d. 465,11.4 and
18-19.
61Sazonovletter
to[Kokovtsov,
Servicechiefs],12November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482,d. 3700,11.242-49;
Sazonovletter
to Giers,14 November1912,AVPRI,f. 138,op. 467, d. 459/478,11.
22-24.
62Sazonov
12 November1912,242.
to Kokovtsov,
63Ibid.,
244.
64SeeStevenson,
Armaments,
232-46 and253-66.

88

RonaldBobroff

boththeclosureof theStraitsand the


anytreatythatdisarmedtheseareas,threatening
ofotherPowers'warshipsintotheBlackSea. Russiamustnotrelyon written
penetration
atthis
assureitsvitalinterests
agreements,
Sazonovconcluded,
butinsteadmustphysically
crucialwaterway.
ofcourse,wasnoeasymatter.
Theradicaloptionwas to
Findingsuchanarrangement,
wouldgiveRussia
seize Constantinople
and theStraitsby force. Such an arrangement
controlofa centerofworldtradeanda "keyto theMediterseveraladvantages,
including
ofRussian
development
raneanSea." Italso wouldprovidethe"basisofan unprecedented
a relatively
shortbutverystrongly
fortified
borderwithBulgaria,complepower"through
armaments."65
Not
mentedbyequippingtheDardanelleswiththe"mostmodernfortress
oftheBalkanstates,Sazonovpredicted,
but
onlywouldtheresultbe Russiandomination
and
also Russianaccessionto "a worldpositionwhichis thenaturalcrownofherefforts
overtwocenturies
of ourhistory."
sacrifices
consequences
ofitsachieveThegrandeur
ofsucha missionandalltheinnumerable
economicandpoliticalrelations
wouldbringa healing
mentinreligious,
cultural,
in ourinternal
andsociety
(ozdorovlenie)
life,[and]wouldgivetheGovernment
(pod"ein)whichcouldunitethemin the
thoseachievements
andthatenthusiasm
pan-national
(obs/ichenarodnot)
importance.66
serviceofa matter
ofindisputable
position
TakingConstantinople,
then,notonlywouldgreatlyimproveRussia's strategic
affairs.
butalso act as a healingbalmuponRussia'stroubledinternal
hisreadersbackdown
theselofty
Sazonovbrought
After
however,
expressing
thoughts,
in
to thedilemmasinvolved implementing
to earthby turning
sucha plan. Russiacould
fulfill
itslong-standing
desireto seize theseregions,butthatwouldlikelyprompt
Austriaat theexpenseof theveryBalkanpeoplesforwhomRussiahad
Hungaryto act similarly
undertherubricof"theBalkansfortheBalkanpeoples."The consequent
beenstruggling
wouldweakenRussiaagainsttheTripleAllianceandon theBalkan
loss ofBalkansupport
ForSazonov,itwas obviousthatifa choicehadtobe madebetween
Peninsulaingeneral.67
Russia possessingtheStraits,or unitingtheBalkanpeoplesagainstAustrianexpansion,
in theregion
thenthelatterwas theonlypossibleoption.Whenall of Russia's interests
todeferRussia'sownexpansiontoprewereconsidered,
Sazonovwas prepared
therefore,
theindependence
of thepeoplesRussia had
ventAustria-Hungary's,
thereby
preserving
workedso hardtoliberateoverthepreviousdecades.
Turkish
Sazonov'spreferred
oncefurther
optionwas to controltheupperBosphorus,
a long-term
ruletherewas impossible,
eitheras an outright
lease.
possessionor through
to preMostimportant,
a fortified
positionon theBosphoruswouldallow St. Petersburg

65Sazonov
toKokovtsov,
12 November1912,246.
66Ibid.

67Ibid.,
246-47. On Austria-Hungary's
planssee GoleevskiiReport108 to RussianGeneralStaff,14 August
formto theForeignMinistry
1912,MO, 20.2,no.468, whichwas sentin abbreviated
as Zhilinskiiletter2455 to
Sazonov,5 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 3717,11.43-44. On theotherhand,ifAustria-Hungary
in seizingterritory,
Russiawouldthenhave"completefreedom
in arriving
tooktheinitiative
at a decision"about
action(SazonovtoGiers,14 November1912).
subsequent

BehindtheBalkan Wars

89

theBlackSea. Constantinople
itselfcouldbe internaventanyhostileshipsfromentering
andtheDardanellesstripped
ofanyfortifications.
Undersuchan arrangement,
tionalized,
thestrengthening
oftheRussianBlackSea FleetwouldallowRusSazonovhypothesized,
In thismanner,
ofpassagethrough
theDardanelles.68
Russiawouldoccupya
sia freedom
changein itsrightsat theStraits.Russia
minimum
of territory
butacquirea significant
firststeptowardsomedayacquiringthewholeregion.
wouldalso havemadean important
From this analysis,then,certainthingsstandout in Sazonov's attitudetoward
wouldhaveto satandtheStraits.First,he believedthatanyarrangement
Constantinople
could protectRussia's ecoagreement
isfyRussianneedson theground,forno written
and culturalinterests
there. Second,whileSazonovwas fullyawareof
nomic,military,
to theRussianEmpire,thecurrent
and theStraits'potential
importance
Constantinople's
theminhiscalculations.Here,then,was notsome
ofAustrian
threat
expansionoutweighed
buta calculatedappraisalofRussia'sstraoftraditional
aspirations,
blind,romantic
pursuit
further
hopes
tegicposition.Austrian
expansionintotheBalkanswouldnotonlydestroy
Russia'spositionas protector
theGermanic
andleader
ofcontaining
powersbutalso destroy
thanits
of thesouthern
Slavs, a roleRussia had claimedforitself,albeitmorerecently
gravitation
towardtheStraits.WhiletheStraitswerecriticalin his view,theirimmediate
hewouldmakesimilar
choices
couldbeoutweighed
byotherconsiderations-and
possession
againin thefuture.
oftheBulgarianattackon theChataljalineson 17 NovemWiththecommencement
it still
berandtheinitialfailureoftalksbetweenthealliesandtheTurksforan armistice,
taketheTurkish
capital.Sazonovwasforcedtospeak,atleast
appearedthatBulgariamight
ofthepossibility
notonlyofinternationalizing
to theFrenchambassador,
Constantinople
theStraits,buthe deferred
a definitive
statement
untilhe could
butalso of neutralizing
Whiletheinternationalization
ofConstantinople
consultwiththetsarandotherauthorities.69
intheabovewritings,
thechangeattheStraits
hadnot.Giventheimporhadbeenforeseen
totheRussians,however,
one mustwonderifthissuggestion
was nota
tanceofthematter
beforeclaiminglaterthatthetsarand
France'sgoodwillandsupport
Russianploytoattract
of theStraits,
becauseofreasonssimilarto
otherswouldnotallowthefullneutralization
thoseSazonovdevelopedabove.
But withthecollapse of theBulgarianoffensiveand the ebbingof the threatto
tootherissuescreatedbythenearSt.Petersburg
coulddevoteitsattention
Constantinople,
fromEurope. The StraitsandConstantinople
retreat
appearedin RuscompleteOttoman
sianstatements
duringthesetalksonlyin a negativesense,whichis to saythatas longas
remained
Russiahadno desiretoraisethesubject.70
Indeed,once
Turkish,
Constantinople

of a stronger
Black Sea Fleet. See Shatsillo,Russk/i iperia&linz; and
68Sazonovwas a vigorousproponent
RonaldBobroff,
"Roads to Glory?SergeiD. Sazonov,theTurkishStraits,and RussianForeignPolicy,19101916"(Ph.D. diss.,Duke University,
2000).
69Louisdep.330 toPoincar6,
20 November1912,DDT, 3.4,no.506. Zotiadesalso takesnoteofthisintimation
ofSazonov'swritings
inNovember,
bySazonovbutmakesmoreofitthanis warranted
bythecontext
thefulltext
of the despatch,and the militaryand naval preparationson the Black Sea ("Russia and the Questionof
Constantinople,"
292).
tel.446 toGrey,22 November1912,BD, 9.2, no. 254; Sazonovletter
70Buchanan
787 toIzvolskii,29 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op.482,d. 131,11.110-13;Sazonovtel.2764 toIzvolskii,30 November1912,ibid.,1.56.

90

RonaldBobroff

theconference
oftheambassadors
gotunderwayinLondon,thefateofConstantinople
and
theStraitsremainedon thesidelines.But in OctoberandNovemberthesequestionshad
receivedsignificant
attention.AlthoughRussia had been pushedby theBulgariansuccesses to concedeon mostterritorial
points,itremainedsteadfast
in itsoppositionto permanentBulgarianaccess to theStraitsandpossessionoftheOttomancapital. Itsresolve
was suchthatitwas preparing
to sendan expedition
oftroopstoConstantinople
toprotect
whatitconsideredtobe itsvitalinterests.
Nottrusting
anyagreement
on papertouphold
Russia'sdesires,Sazonovhadtheagreement
ofhiscolleaguesandtsartotakemilitary
steps
toensurethatitsvoicewouldbe heard.
BULGARIAN ADVANCE REDUX
ThefailureoftheDecemberarmistice
andtherenewedfighting
from2 March1913sparked
a renewedBulgarianattempt
tocaptureAdrianople
andrevivedRussianfearsforthesafety
ofConstantinople.
Thisin turninspiredSt. Petersburg
toreturn
to thepoliciesofthefall:
insisting
thatBulgariamustnotpossessConstantinople
orhavelandaccess to theStraits,
andpreparing
todispatchshipsandtroopstoConstantinople
toprotect
theChristian
populationandRussia'sinterests.
On 22 March,witha renewedattackonAdrianople
seemingly
imminent,
Sazonov beganto implement
thesepoliciesin a discussionwiththevisiting
Bulgariangeneral,RadkoDimitriev.Dimitriev
indicatedthatBulgariawishedtoreceivea
borderwithTurkeythatincludedcoastlineon theSea of Marmora. He simultaneously
threatened
Sazonovthatrefusalcouldmeanthereplacement
ofthepresent
Russophilegovernment
moreinclinedto looktowardAustria-Hungary
by another
forsupport.Sazonov
thegeneralthatRussiahad madea seriousconcessionby allowing
repliedbyreminding
Bulgariato takeAdrianople,
whichSazonovduplicitously
describedas crucialto thedefenseoftheTurkish
as notedabove,on 4 Novemberithadbeendecapital,eventhough,
cidedthatAdrianoplewas notas important
as first
thought.Sazonov,furthermore,
would
notbe intimidated
byhisinterlocutor's
ofa changein government.
warning
He informed
thegeneralthatif thegovernment
in Sofiadid takea pro-Austrian
line,thenthatwould
showhowlittleRussiashouldvalueBulgaria,negating
anyreasonformakingtheconcession. Sazonovalso refusedthegeneral'ssuggestion
thatSofiacouldmakeConstantinople
a giftto St. Petersburg
sincethequestionof Constantinople
was too complicatedto be
resolvedthougha Russo-Bulgarian
bilateralagreement.Sazonovrecognizedthatin the
wakeofthe1878CongressofBerlinanychangeattheStraitswouldhavetobe on a multilateralbasis. Giventhisand thecurrent
stateofreorganization
of theRussianarmy,the
presentmoment
was notthebesttoresolvetheseissues.71Additionally,
theconsequences
of a Bulgarianoccupationof thecitybothfortheChristian
populationof theOttoman
thereweretoopotentially
capitalandempireandforRussianinterests
disastrous
to allow
theBulgariansso muchinfluence
overthepace ofevents.
AfterAdrianople'sfall to the allied armieson 27 March,a Bulgarianseizureof
loomed. Sazonovrespondedto thisin thesamewayas he didin NovemConstantinople
7'Sazonovletter262 toNekliudov,
22 March1913,AVPRI,f. 138,op. 467, d. 318/321,11.4-5.

Behind theBalkan Wars

91

orderandprotect
ber1912:heplannedtosendthefleetandtroopstothecapitaltomaintain
theRussianfleet
Giers'spowertosummon
Russianinterests.
On 28 March,afterrenewing
thetsarthatthejustificaConstantinople,72
Sazonovinformed
iftheBulgariansthreatened
tionforthedispatchoftheshipswas
ofthepeacefulChrisnotonlythenecessityto takemeasuresfortheprotection
retreat
oftheTurkish
ofConstantinople
army,
tianpopulation
duringa disorderly
but also the desirability,in case of the entryof the Bulgarian armyinto
RussianforceinthewatersoftheBosphorus,
toplacea powerful
Constantinople,
forpreventing
suchsolutions
withitsarrivalabletorendertherequisitepressure
andtheStraitswhichwouldbe incompatible
to thequestionsof Constantinople
ofRussia.73
withtheinterests
hisrealintentions
wereotherwise,
Sazonovtoldthetsarthat
thatsuggested
Butina manner
couldanticipate
misunderstandifthefleetwas senttotheTurkish
capital,thegovernment
ingsin thepressbymakingitknownthattheRussianshipswouldstayonlyuntilthefinal
tellthePowersthat
conditions
ofpeace weresettled.WhileSazonovwouldsubsequently
wouldresultintheappearanceoftheRussianfleetoff
BulgarianseizureofConstantinople
in anyof thedocuments
thathe toldanyothernationof
itsshore,thereis no indication
troopsthereas well.
Russia'sintention
to sendfivethousand
thetroopswereagainpreparedfordispatchin April1913,therewas now
Although
thatcould
forsucha numberofmen.74Untila shipor shipsarrived
insufficient
transport
carrythesoldiers(and was thenunloadedand preparedfortheirconveyance-a process
alreadyshowntotakeseveraldays),Russiacouldnotmovethemenandwasthuspowerless
oritsowninterests
atthecapital.WiththeBulgariansonly
eithertheinhabitants
toprotect
Russiapossessedfeweroptionsto
one setof defensive
worksawayfromConstantinople,
wroteon 1 Aprilthat
situation,
stopthemthanpreviously.Giers,unawareofthetransport
tohastentheconclunecessary
ifRussiawas unabletosendthesetroops,"itwas extremely
to
sionofpeace beforethefalloftheChataljapositionandthento applyall ofourefforts
neveragainbe surprised
byevents."75
Thus stripped
of one of his fewphysicalmeansof influencing
events,Sazonov rehowlimitedhis options
in thediplomatic
arena. Evenbeforelearning
doubledhisefforts
of their
to satisfytheBulgariansand head offa continuation
were,Sazonov attempted
territorial
concession.On 27 MarchheacceptedSofia's
withonefurther
military
operations
theflowoftheriverErgenebetweenEnos
requestfora borderwithTurkeynotfollowing
linebetweenthosetwocities. He pressedforspeedin
andMidia,butinsteada straight
that"anydelaymeansa serious
havingthePowersandTurkeyacceptsucha line,fearing
As
buthe insistedthatthismustbe theverylastconcession.76
dangerforConstantinople,"
i prolivy,"
62.
72Zakher,
"Konstantinopol'
58-59. Thisletterwas
toNicholasII, 28 March1913,AVPRI,f. 138,op. 467, d. 721/780,11.
73Sazonov
report
in Sazonov letter288 to
approvedby Nicholason 29 Marchand thensentto Kokovtsovforhis information
Kokovtsov,
30 March1913,RGIA,f. 1276,op. 9, d. 600, 1. 1.
102.
Russkiiimperlializn,
74Shatsillo,
75Giers
tel.218 to Sazonov,1 April1913,RGIA, f. 1276,op. 9, d. 600, 1.5.
1911-1914.'Aus
76Sazonov
tel.723 to Giers,27 March1913,in Der DIplomatlischeSchrifwechsell.swolskis
Stieve(Berlin,1926),3, no. 789.
Staatsarchiv
(DS1),ed. Friedrich
demGeheilnaktei
derRussiychen

92

RonaldBobroff

wouldBulgariabe allowedtoobtainseashoreon
above,undernocircumstances
mentioned
fromtheGreatPowers
Thismetlittleresistance
eithertheStraitsortheSea ofMarmora.77
intotheirtermsforpeace. One Bulgariandemandwas thusmet.
andso was incorporated
gavethisconcessiondebatablevalue,since
inBulgaria,
however,
conflict
Civil-military
overthepolicyfollowedby
thecivilianleadershipwas recognizedto havelittleinfluence
respondedto the
Althoughthecivilianleadership
andhis armychiefs.78
KingFerdinand
foran assurancethatBulgariadidnotintend
Enos-Midialineinreturn
offerofthestraight
andhis generalswereexpectedto attacktheTurkish
Ferdinand
to attackConstantinople,
capitalas soon as possible. Indeed,evenBulgarianPrimeMinisterI. S. Gueshovfeared
thatif an armisticedid notcome verysoon,an attackon theChataljalines"could not
be avoided."79Sazonov thussoughtto maketheofferto theBulgarianleadershipmore
attractive.
Sazonovsoughttogain
totemperSofia'sexpectations,
Whileatthesametimetrying
forBulgariathattheBulgarianenvoyshad
indemnity
thePowers'acceptanceofa Turkish
He hopedthat
alongwiththerevisedborder.80
in mid-March,
requestedin St. Petersburg
would
acceptan armito Sofia,Bulgaria
once thePowerspromisedsuchcompensation
Enossticeand notattackConstantinople.In contrastto theproposalforthestraight
especiallybyFrance.Paris,alreadyafraid
was metwithhostility,
Midialine,theindemnity
felt
itsinterests,
demandsserving
thatthesenewchangeswouldleadViennatoputforward
France
affected
France'sinterests.8'
financial
burden
directly
toTurkey's
thatsuchanaddition
there,so was
carried45 percentof theOttomandebtand had hugecapitalinvestments
other
inTurkeynotgoingbankrupt
undertheaddeddebt. Moreover,
especiallyinterested
imposedon the
wouldsurelyresist,and werean indemnity
powers,especiallyGermany,
friend
ofthe
Turks,theGermanswouldmakeuse ofthispressuretoshowitselfas a better
Porte.82As muchas Sazonovinsistedon meetingtheBulgarianson thisissue,therefore,
in Parisin chargeof theOttoman
theFrenchwouldagreeonlyto allow thecommission
debttoexaminetheissueafterthewar.
use of
Whilehe struggled
withtheFrenchon thisissue,Sazonovdidmakediplomatic
whatmilitary
cardshe couldrelyon-the dispatchoftheBlack Sea fleettotheStraitsand
of
ofthelargedetachment
thepreparation
Unlikethesecrecysurrounding
Constantinople.
Sazonovmadeveryclearto Britainand France
troopsforoccupationof Constantinople,
inParisandLondon
Russia'sreadinesstoemployitsfleet.On 31 Marchthegovernments
if theTurkish
learnedthatRussiawouldsenda squadronof warshipsto Constantinople
theChristian
populafromthatcity.Thiswouldbe donenotonlytoprotect
armyretreated
tionfromany disordersthatmightoccurbutalso "in case of theBulgarianentryinto
inthewatersofthe
thepresenceofanimposingRussianforceis necessary
Constantinople,
solutions
Bosphorusinordertoexercisebyitspresencetheneededpressureandtoprevent
tel.724 toBenckendorff,
27 March1913,DSI, 3, no. 790
77Sazonov
Russiaand theBalkans,chaps.4, 7.
78Rossos,
tels.95 and96 toPichon,29 March1913,DDT 3.6, no. 109.
79Panafieu
22 March1913,DSI, 3, no. 783.
tel.680 toBenckendorff,
80Sazonov
8lIzvolskiitel. 139 to Sazonov,31 March 1913,in UinLivreNoi:- Divlomatied'a va-itguerred'apres les
novemnbre
docunmewits
des archivesr-usses,
1910-juillet,1914 (LA), ed. Ren6Marchand(Paris,1922-34),2:59.
politiques"(MauricePal6ologue),7 April1913,DDT, 3.6,no. 222.
82"Note
de Directeur
desAffaires

BehindtheBalkan Wars

93

of Ruswiththeinterests
and theStraitsincompatible
on thesubjectof Constantinople
would
thepressthatthewarships
Sazonovnotedthathe wouldinform
sia."" Furthermore,
onlyuntilconclusionof thepeace. Here again,
remainoffthecoast of Constantinople
onthesubject,
withhisearlierstatements
together
ofthecommunique,
thewording
though,
wereotherwise-the
fleetwouldremainuntilConstantinople's
hisactualintentions
suggests
fatewas resolvedto Russia'ssatisfaction.
andespeciallytheFrench,
ThiselementofSazonov'spolicywasnotlostontheBritish
actions.WhiletheFrenchheldstrong
whosoughtto limitthescopeofRussia'sunilateral
theBritishweremoreinclinedto supportRussian
suspicionsaboutRussia's intentions,
anddisemthatall thePowerscouldsendshipsto Constantinople
action.Greysuggested
also
andhisassistants
barktroopstokeeporder(unawareofSazonov'splanstothateffect),
action.84Britainthus
madeit clearthattheydid notoppose Russia takingindependent
in St. Petersthemeasuresquietlybeingprepared
condoning
appearedtobe unknowingly
burg.
Notonlydid
different.
was significantly
The reactionin Paristo Russia'sintentions
but,as notedabove,theyalso feared
Austrian
reaction,85
an aggressive
theFrenchanticipate
capital,andtheyopposed
whatRussiamightdo oncein de factopossessionoftheTurkish
positionthere.Indeed,
actionbyRussiathatwouldplaceitina commanding
anyunilateral
wellsinceevenback
theFrenchmaynothavehiddentheirsuspicionsofRussianintentions
thattheFrench
toIzvolskiiofhissuspicions
inNovember
1912,Sazonovquietlycomplained
to encouragetheBulgarianstotakethecity.86
weretrying
beganto
thelikelihoodofa Bulgarianattackon Constantinople
By 8 April,however,
diminish.Cholerahad appearedin theBulgarianarmyinThracemonthsbefore,butnow
forattack.On 8, 9, and 10April,
thediseaseseemedto dampentheBulgarianenthusiasm
was leaningagainstan attack
that
Ferdinand
signals
increasing
LondonandParisreported
receivedin St. Petersinformation
on theTurkishcapital.87Suchnewsservedto confirm
burgthattheBulgarianswerereadytocometotermswiththeTurks.88
fromhis EnSazonov,however,concealedhis knowledgeof Bulgarianintentions
a
inordertogainsomediplomatic
leveragebyfollowingpolicymoreconcestentepartners
sionarythanitreallywas. Sazonovlearnedon 8 AprilthatPoincare,nowtheFrenchpresiwouldrenouncetheidea ofcolpolicyformulation,
dentbutstillcentralin Frenchforeign
ifSazonovhad"theleastobjection"toit.89
fleetoffConstantinople
lectingan international
tel.287 to Sazonov,31
83"Note
de lambassadede Russie,"31 March1913,DDT, 3.6, no. 127; Benckendorff
fromEtter,1 April1913,BD, 9.2, no.788; Sazonovtel.766 to
March1913,in GBDS, 3, no.931; Communication
30 March1913,GBDS, 3, no. 928.
Giers,30 March1913,GBDS, 3, no. 927; Sazonovtel.777 to Benckendorff,
tel.298 to Sazonov,3 April1913,
letter235 to Bertie,3 April1913,BD, 9.2, no. 800; Benckendorff
84Grey
tel.301 toSazonov,3 April1913,RGIA, f. 1276,op. 9, d. 600,1.
RGIA,f. 1276,op. 9, d. 600, 1.6; Beckendorff
7.
85Pichon
tel.393 and393 bis toDelcass6,7 April1913,DDT, 3.6,no. 217.
86Sazonov
tel.2502 toIzvolskii,8 November1912,AVPRI,f. 151,op. 482, d. 130,1. 110.
87P.Cambontel. 111toPichon,8 April1913,DDT, 3.6,no. 234; Bertietel.46 to Grey,9 April1913,BD, 9.2,
no. 822; Delcass6 tels. 188, 189,and 190 to Pichon,10 April1913,DDF, 3.6, no. 254; P. Cambontel. 118 to
passedalongbyIzvolskiiin tel.171 toSazonov,11April
Pichon,1OApril1913,DDF, 3.6,no. 262,withcontent
1913,LA",69.
Russia ald theBalkanis,127.
88Rossos,
89lzvolskii
tel. 165 to Sazonov,8 April1913,LN/V2:66.

94

RonaldBobroff

BelievingthatSofiawas aboutto makepeace,thereby


removing
theneedto sendships,
Sazonovnowacceptedtheproposal,whichhehadearlieropposed.90
Furthermore,
attemptingtouse thisopportunity
todevelopthefiction
ofpublicinfluence
on hispolicy,he stipulatedthattheshipsshouldbe sentonlyincase ofimminent
dangerandthat,in sucha case,
thePowersshouldarrangethingsso thattheRussiansquadronwouldnotarriveat their
destination
afterthoseoftheotherPowers,lesta publicstormofdisapproval
arisein Russia.91WiththeRussiannavyunabletofurnish
for
the
number
of
transport
large
troopsthat
he wishedtosendtoConstantinople,
Sazonov'seffective
optionsforstrengthening
Russian
influence
wererather
limited,
butgiventhathe feltthedangerwas passing,he couldafford
withthe
sucha concession.Andon 15Apriltheneedforsucha demonstration
disappeared
ofBulgarianandTurkish
agreement
forcestoan armistice.It appearedthattheconclusion
butalso
offighting
on theeasternBalkanfront
endednotonlythethreat
to Constantinople
at theTurkishcapitalandin theStraits.The
Russia'simmediate
worriesforitsinterests
alliedvictories
gaveSt.Petersburg
hopethatRussiawouldnowhavestronger
helpinresistthebackdoortoConstantinople
and
ingAustrian
expansiontotheAegeanandinprotecting
theStraits.
Beforethefirstwarhadevenended,disputesaroseamongthealliesoverthedivision
ofthespoils,especiallyin Macedonia. The growing
betweenSerbiaandGreece,
hostility
on theone hand,and Bulgariaon theothercame to a head at theend of June,whenthe
BulgarianarmyattackedtheSerbianarmyin Macedonia.Greecequicklycameto Serbia's
inobtaining
itsowncompensation
forSofia's
aid,followedcloselybyRumania,interested
its
thatthreatened
gains. WhiletheRussiangovernment
deploredthisinternecine
struggle
Sazonovadmitted
that
advantageous
positionin theBalkansso soonafteritsconstruction,
wasnotall bad: itmightcreatea balanceofpoweron thepeninhavingBulgariachastened
sula thatwouldlenditselfto a future
allianceof thesesmallpowers.92Thisreduction
of
to theStraitsandConstantinople.
Bulgaria'sstrength
wouldalso lessenthethreat
Sazonovdidnotopposetheaggrandizement
of theChristian
statesat Bulgaria'sexfromrecapturing
pense,buthe soughttoprevent
Turkey
Adrianople.He learnedon 12July
to do so,therefore
he triedtorushBulgaria,Greece,Rumania
thatthePortewas preparing
andSerbiaintopeace talks,butthisfoundered
ontheirreconcilability
ofthedemandsofthe
twosides. Sazonovalso attempted
to coordinate
jointdiplomaticactionagainstthePorte
also collapsedbecauseofthediffering
ofthe
bytheGreatPowers,butthisattempt
priorities
actionnearlyimpossible.Onceagain,France'sfinanPowers,whichmadeanycooperative
cial interests
provedtobe oneofRussia'sbiggestobstacles,as Parisrefusedtoapplyfinancial pressureon Constantinople
in muchthesamefashionas ithad withBulgaria.Butthe
now
issues
hadless todo withthesecurity
oftheStraitsthanwiththeabsolutehumiliation
of theBulgariansand reapplication
of MuslimruleoverChristian
Balkanpeoples. The
OttomanEmpireregainedAdrianopleand someEuropeanterritory,
in largepartbecause
of theBulgarianmilitary
collapsecoupledwiththedeadlockeddiplomacyof theGreat
90Sazonov
9 April1913,DSJ 3, no. 832; "Notede lambassadede Russie,"10April
tel.897 toBenckendorff,
1913,DDT 3.6,no. 252; andDelcass6tels.188, 189,and 190 to Pichon,10 April1913,DDE, 3.6, no. 254.
9'Buchanantel. 147 to Grey,13April1913,BD, 9.2, no. 843.
92Sazonov
letter
to Izvolskii,10 July1913,AVPRI,f.340, op. 835,d. 39, 11.37-38.

BehindtheBalkan Wars

95

Sofia
Russianintervention.
Powers,buttheiradvancehaltedshortof forcinga unilateral
toharborthehopethatthePowerswoulddemanda reviewoftheTurko-Bulgarcontinued
ofthe
bytheexertions
literally,
1913,butthePowers,exhausted,
of29 September
iantreaty
leftitunchanged.
previousyearofBalkanWardiplomacy,
in 1913,as hehadin 1912,tokeeptheBulgarianforcesout
Thus,Sazonovendeavored
troopstoConstantinople
totransport
Thistime,facedwiththeinability
ofConstantinople.
measures,Sazonovhadto
andtherefusalofRussia'sFrenchallyto cooperatein effective
for
inducements
makingconcessionsandseekingadditional
relyevenmoreon diplomacy,
roleat theTurkish
to concedeBulgariaa permanent
Sofia,butas before,alwaysrefusing
capitalandon theStraits.
oftheFirstBalkanWarto theconcluBy theendofthetwelvemonthsfromtheoutbreak
Russiahad achievedverymixedresultsfromits
agreement,
sionof theTurko-Bulgarian
theTurkishStraitsremainedcompletelyunder
diplomaticexertions.Most positively,
by
TurkishcontrolwiththeBulgariansa relativelysafe distanceaway. Furthermore,
inthe
intervention
Austrian
Russiahelpedprevent
military
interests,
longer-term
deferring
andstrength
tosomedegree.
allowingall theBalkanstatestogainterritory
thereby
conflict,
it at
Sazonov'spoliciesof opposingBulgariaat sometimeswhilesupporting
Conversely,
othertimes,muchas Russiadid withotherBalkanstates,alienatedthosestatesto some
intoWorldWarI onthe
thestageforBulgaria'sentrance
extent,
especiallyBulgaria,setting
forSazonov,his Frenchally,lookingcarefully
side of theCentralPowers. Frustratingly
BulgariaorTurkey.
intheregion,
provedtobe littlehelpinpressuring
after
itsowninterests
Withtheloss of prestigeabroadcame blows to his prestigeat home,and therenewing
abroadwouldbringremainedfaroff.
he hadhopedthatvictories
internal
effects
ofpolicyforwindowintoRussianpatterns
Butthiscrisisdoes providean important
interests.On theone hand,Sazonovworkedtopremulationwhenfacedwithcompeting
anygrabforthe
as possibleamongtheBalkanstatesbydeferring
serveas muchinfluence
Whilethismeantthat
movesforcompensation.
Austrian
whichcouldhavebrought
Straits,
it also meantthatitslosseson theBalkanPeninsula
at theStraits,
Russiangainednothing
fromanAuscomparedtothatwhichwouldhaveresulted
werelimitedin theirmagnitude
On theotherhand,Sazonovdidnotletthisconcernfor
ofmoreterritory.
trianannexation
at theStraits.WhileRussia mighthave
theSlavic statesdamageRussianvitalinterests
fromitsMustorecapture
Constantinople
gainedgreatfavorbyallowingKingFerdinand
ofthe
ofa newpowerin thefreedom
limpossessors,itwouldhavefacedtheinterference
Straits.This Sazonov could notallow,and he workedto preventit even at thecost of
in Russia'salliancewithFrance.This
atSofiaandincreasedfriction
influence
diminished
andpredicttheRussianFederation's
tounderstand
lessonmustbe keptinmindwhentrying
the
ofitsbondstotheBalkan
tout
While
Russia
strength
in
Balkans
may
the
today.
policies
willnotextendtothemostvitalofits
thatsacrifice
forsomesacrifice,
Slavsandbe prepared
standfirst,
interests.
Russia,likemoststates,willcontinueto lookafteritsowninterests
ingup forothersonlywhentheriskto itselfis nottoogreat.

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