The Great Reforms: Sources and Consequences
The growth of social and political tensions in Russia, a new revolution and the fall of the monarchy were by no means inevitable in 1914. At the beginning of the twentieth century Russia had serious disagreements with both Germany and England, the leaders of the two rival political and military blocs in Europe. Relations with England were also complicated because England opposed Russia in Central Asia and supported Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. An additional factor that drew Russia toward alliance with England and France was the rise of patriotic sentiment within the liberal opposition. The conflicts with Germany and Austria-Hungary ultimately impelled Russia's rulers to choose an alliance with England and France. Austria-Hungary and Germany felt prepared for military action and decided to use the assassination as a convenient pretext for going to war. The Austrians presented Serbia with a ten-point ultimatum that patently violated its sovereignty. The military defeats had an immediate social and economic impact on Russia.