USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

The France-Russia Alliance

Despite tensions between the Germans and Russians in the Balkans (the Germans drawn in by Austria) in 1887 the two states agreed to the Reinsurance Treaty—declaring their intentions not to be drawn into war with each other. This treaty was the crowning achievement of the Bismarckian conception of non-encirclement and of a web of bilateral agreements between Germany and its neighbors in order to prevent a specifically anti-German alliance from emerging. In the following decades, however, the mood in Germany shifted decisively (more in this below) such that the treaty with Russia was let expire in 1890. An increasingly belligerent Germany, a more confident and aggressive Austria, and fears that Britain would swoop in and ally with Germany and Austria (Russia’s great fear) convinced Russia to form an alliance with France. By 1894, the first leg of the Entente—the alliance of Paris and St. Petersburg—was in place. This is not to say, however, that the French-Russian alliance would inevitably lead both nations to war in the event of international conflict. At many points during the tumultuous period between 1894 and 1914, one party or another indicated that it would not aid its "partner." For example, the Russians made it clear to the French that such support would not be forthcoming if France were to go to war with Britain over Fashoda (see above). In the end, the alliance was only activated if it seemingly aligned with broader national interests and public sentiment. 

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