Sergei Sazonov in 1914

Sergei Sazonov in 1914

Sergei Sazonov was born in Russia in 1860. Nicholas II considered Sazonov to be a competent international analyst and in 1910 appointed him as his foreign minister.

Sazonov was aware that although the Russian Army was large, it was also inefficient, and was careful to avoid conflict with Turkey during the Balkan Wars. However, in 1914, Sazonov was of the opinion that in the event of a war, Russia's membership of the Triple Entente would enable it to make territorial gains from neighbouring countries. Sazonov and Nicholas II were especially interested in taking Posen, Silesia, Galicia and North Bukovina.

Sergei Sazonov

1. Was a strong supporter of Nicholas II and the autocracy.

2. Did not believe in universal suffrage.

3. Wanted the Russian government to deal harshly with those people demanding political reforms.

4. Thought Russia should support Serbia against the Triple Alliance.

5. Thought Russia should honour its obligations and support the Triple Entente against the Triple Alliance.

6. As the Russian Army was the largest army in the world he was convinced that Russia would defeat Austria-Hungary and Germany in a war.

7. If the Triple Entente defeated the Triple Alliance, Russia would gain control of Posen, Silesia, Galicia, North Bukovina and the Dardanelles.

Primary Sources

(1) Alexander Kerensky, Russia and History's Turning Point (1965)

On 25th October, 1912, A. P. Izvolsky, Russian ambassador to Paris, informed Foreign Minister Sazonov of the following statement of policy adopted by the French Cabinet: "France now recognizes that Austria's territorial ambitions involve the over-all balance of power in Europe and consequently France's own interests."

In short, France was encouraging Russia to take a stronger stand in the Balkans. At about the same time France began pressing Russia to strengthen the construction of strategically important railroads without delay.

(2) Bernard Pares knew Nicholas II and Sergei Sazonov during the summer of 1914.

At this time the Tsar nor his army had any doubt (that if there was a war) of the ultimate victory of the Triple Entente, and Nicholas played at the then fashionable game of redividing up the world. Russia must receive Posen, part of Silesia, Galicia and North Bukovina which will permit her to reach her natural limit, the Carpathians. The Turks were to be driven from Europe; the Northern Straits might be Bulgarian, but the environs of Constantinople - Sazonov had not yet asked for the city itself - must be in the hands of Russia.

(3) Alexander Kerensky, Russia and History's Turning Point (1965)

On January 19, Goremykin was replaced by Sturmer, an extreme reactionary who hated the very idea of any form of popular representation or local self-government. Even more important, he was undoubtedly a believer in the need for an immediate cessation of the war with Germany.

During his first few months in office, Sturmer was also Minister of Interior, but the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs was still held by Sazonov, who firmly advocated honouring the alliance with Britain and France and carrying on the war to the bitter end, and who recognized the Cabinet's obligation to pursue a policy in tune with the sentiments of the majority in the Duma.

On August 9, however, Sazonov was suddenly dismissed. His portfolio was taken over by Sturmer, and on September 16, Protopopov was appointed acting Minister of the Interior. The official government of the Russian Empire was now entirely in the hands of the Tsarina and her advisers.