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Ex-Deputy to the Duma

Translated by





(AH rights resen'ed)


" Petrograd, 12 January. — At Lcmberg the con-
valescent Russian soldiers, blinded by vitriol, which
was flung in their faces by the Germans, offer a pitiful
spectacle. With bandaged features, they move in
Indian file, holding on to a cord, and led by a guide "
(Telegram published in the journal L Humanite,
January 13, 1915).








The success obtained with the British public by
my work on " Modern Russia," of which the
second edition followed the first in the space of
ten months, has inspired me with courage once
more to address my readers in a book devoted
to my country.

The subject of this new book is " Russia and
the Great War." But in writing it I wished
not merely to write a book for the moment ex-
clusively, of value only for to-day, and of no
interest to-morrow. It is not the external and
dramatic aspect of the great war waged by Russia
and her Allies that interests me the most. On
the contrary, my readers will find in my pages
neither descriptions of battles nor tragic or
picturesque narratives of the incidents of battle.
My aim has been something quite different from
this, I wish to inform my English readers con-
cerning the principal phenomena of Russian life
before the war, and to explain the relations be-
tween these phenomena and the war itself.


What were the events of international poli-
tics which preceded the war, and what causes
forced Russia to take part in it? What was the
internal situation of Russia on the eve of the
war? Can we say that the Russian people, or
its Government, or both together, desired tnis
war? How was the war received by society,
and by the popular masses in Russia, and what
was the attitude of the various nationalities and
political parties of my country toward the world-
war ? Why did certain of the Russian " revo-
lutionaries ■■ and Socialists experience a strange
dread of the victor>- of Russia, and even express
a desire that she should meet with defeat? In
what manner did the Governments of the countries
at war with Russia seek to exploit, to their own
proht, the hatred of the Russian revolutionaries
for Tsarism ? Why does the Russian soldier fight
better when opposed to the Austrians. Germans,
and Turks, than he fought during the war with
Japan? What prospects will lie open before
Russia at the end of the war? What may Europe
expect from Russia, and Russia trom Europe,
after the demolition of the Prussian militarism
which threatens both Russia and Europe ?

Here are the numerous questions which I deal
with m the present volimie, and which I seek


to answer. In my arguments and expositions
I have sought always to remain objective and
impartial, so far as that is possible in the phase
of the human tragedy through which we are
passing. Each of my assertions is based on facts
and supported by documents. I do not wish
to trouble the minds of my readers by clamorous
indignation ; I prefer to convince their minds
by an objective analysis. For, in the words of
a Russian writer —

Words and illusions perish ; facts remain.

G. A.

April 1915.





I, The evolution of the foreign policy of the Russian Empire
after the Russo-Japanese War. The movement towards
the Far East and the recoil towards the West. The
economic interests of Russia in the Far East and the Near
East. — II. The supporters of the " Asiatic policy." The
confidential memoir of a Russian diplomatist . . 19


I. Russia in the Concert of the Powers. The Franco-Russian
Alliance. Was the position of France offensive or de-
fensive ? — II. The Anglo-French Alliance. The rivalry
between Germany and England. The Anglo-Franco-
Russian enitnte and its political character . . • Z^


I. The Balkan War and the Balkan League. — II. The Turco-
German friendship. — III. Austria in the Balkans and her
conflict with Serbia and Russia. The problem of Con-
stantinople and the Dardanelles . . . -47





I. The economic relations between Russia and Germany. The
commercial exchange between these two countries. The
success of German trade in the Russian market facilitated
by the anti-Semitic policy in Russia. — II. The Customs
Treaty of 1904 and the problem of its renewal. The
necessity of abolishing the Protectionist system in Russia.
Why was not the Russo-Gcrman economic entente
realized ? ....... 59


I. The internal life of Russia before the war. Economic
progress and the re-birth of the popular movement. — II.
The policy of the Government. Recent success of the
liberative movement. The political strike and the popular
demonstrations of July 1914 in Petersburg . . -74


I. The Russian finances. The increase in the Budget. The
revenues. — II. The expenditure — how divided. Military
expenditure. — III. The reserves available. The new loan
of 1914. Its strategical and military destination . . 82


I. The evolution of the Russian Army since the middle of the
nineteenth century. — II. Tiie military forces of Russia
compared with those of Austria and Germany. — III. The
Russian Navy . . . . . . -95


I. Did Russia desire the war ? The two Russias, popular and
governmental. The pacific tendencies of the Russian
peasants and working-men. — II. Official Russia and its



attitude towards the Austro-German coalition. The political,
military, and ideological recoil of the Russian Government
from the Austro-German expansion. — III. The war and the
Revolution. Tlie Russian reaction and the Prussian . 105



I. The diplomatic documents and the political reality. The
opinion of a little Chinese scholar and a great European
scientist. — II. The international tension in July 1914 and
the question of responsibility. The Austro-German aggres-
sion and the part played by Russia. Could Russia have
anticipated the war ? . . . . . -123


I. The Russian Government and Russian society confronted
with an unexpected war. — II. The session of the Duma.
The agreement between the majority of the parties and
representatives. — III. Why the Extreme Left did not vote
for the military credits ..... 134


I. The action of the Government. The administrative measures
taken in relation to the war. — II. Financial measures; the
new taxes and loans. The prohibition of the sale of
alcohol. — III. The domestic policy of Tsarism during the
war . . , . . . . .155




I. The nationalist problem and the war. The various nation-
alities of the Russian Empire before the international war.
— II. The Polish problem. Why have the Russian Poles
become Russophiles ? — III. The Armenian problem. —
IV. The Ukraine.— V. Finland.— VI. The position of the
Jews. Their conflict with the Poles. — VII. The nationalist
problem in the Baltic Provinces . . . -179


I. The dread of a Russian victory among the revolutionaries
and Socialists of Russia. The workers do not share this
dread. The declarations of Kropotkin and Plechanov.
Why is the propaganda resulting from this apprehension
erroneous and harmful ? — II. The German, Austrian, and
Turkish Government's endeavour to corrupt the Russian
revolutionaries. The noble reply of certain of these latter
to the agents of the Austro-Germans and the Turks.
Russian revolutionaries in the French Army . . 229


I. The activities of public institutions and private initiative.
The " Union of the Zemstvos " and the " Union of the Cities."
— II. The rural communes and co-operative associations
in the campaign against the misfortunes produced by the
war. — III. The intellectual youth of Russia and the war. —
IV. The Press in Russia during the war . . . 258


I. On the field of battle. The Russian soldier in the present
war. Mobilization. The prohibition of the sale of alcohol
and its effect on the Army. The military chiefs. — II. Treason
in the Executive. — III. Why the Russian soldier is fighting
better against Germany, Austria, and Turkey than he
fought against Japan. The " liberation idea " and the war . 277





I. The possible results of the war. Territorial changes and the
problem of an enlargement of the Russian frontiers. — II.
The possession of the Dardanelles and Constantinople.
Are they necessary to Russia ? . . . . 297


I. The political and economic results of a German defeat and
the destruction of Prussian Imperialism. — II. The defeat
of Germany is to the advantage of the German revolu-
tionaries and the Socialists of Germany and of all
Europe ........ 306


I. Why is the Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance preferable, from
the point of view of Russian liberty and democracy, to
the alliance of Russia with the German and Austrian
monarchies? — II, The intrigues of the Russian reaction-
aries during the war. Their propaganda in favour of a
separate peace with Germany. The necessity of an alliance
of the democratic elements of the Allied countries if these
intrigues are to be disarmed . . . . -312


I. The future evolution of Russia. Various opinions held in
Russian society concerning this evolution. — II. The national
question after the war. — III. The role of the French and
English democracies in the Russian people's struggle for
liberty. — IV. What has Russia to give to the world ? . 322




I. Russia and England. Their economic relations. The neces-
sity of a system of Free Trade in these relations. — II. The
intellectual relations between Russia and England. Con-
cerning certain "deviations" of English sympathies . 343


Russia and the Great War


The evolution of the foreign policy of the Russian Empire
after the Russo-Japanese War. The movement towards the
Far East and the recoil towards the West. The economic
interests of Russia in the Far East and the Near East.
— II. The supporters of the "Asiatic policy." The con-
fidential memoir of a Russian diplomatist.

The war with little Japan marked a decisive
moment in the contemporary history of the ex-
ternal policy of the great Russian Empire. To
be more precise, it constituted first a check and
then a change in the direction of this policy.
Before the war the Russian eagle had hovered
in full liberty above the Asiatic Orient, continu-
ally extending its wings over new territories, until
at length the Pacific Ocean was attained. But
the Rising Sun of the young Japanese Empire
was to scorch its pinions. Its flight toward the
Far East was suddenly arrested, and as early as
1906, at a secret meeting of the leaders of the
Russian Government, one of these latter declared



that after the debacle occasioned by the Russo-
Japanese War, the Empire of the Tsars must per-
force renounce the old aggressive energy of
its customary external policy, in order to
" assume a more prudent and more conciliatory

Thus there ensued a period of arrest in the
march of Russia toward the Far East, and the
Muscovite bear found himself at the parting of
the v^ays, like the hero of a popular Russian
legend. Which was the road to follow ? Should
he continue to tread the ancient track? But the
yellow sun of Japan was still visible on the
Eastern horizon. Or would it be better to return
toward the West ? Behold the black eagle of
Germany, with its beak of steel, and always on
the alert !

Doubtless the best and simplest policy would
have been to remain at home, to seek no new
adventures, whether to East or to West. But
unhappily man does not always adhere to the
best or the simplest solution. And the historical
past had left Russia a heavy burden in the shape
of an inheritance of military and diplomatic ties^
and alliances and counter-alliances, whose auto-
matic action might well result in dragging Russia
into an external conflict, or in forcing her to
involve both friends and enemies in such a con-
flict. Moreover, there were forces in the interior
of the country which would not willingly bow


to the necessity of modifying the tone of the
State's external policy. There were several
groups among the higher ranks of the aristocracy
and the Army for whom the lesson of the Russo-
Japanese War passed almost unperceived, and who
were eager to take their revenge upon the field
of battle— but on what field was a matter of in-
difference. There were groups of capitalists,
moreover, who would not be content with a patient
and peaceable effort to regenerate the great home
market, which was nevertheless capable of yield-
ing them a greater revenue than all the Man-
churias and Persias of the world together. They
hankered after foreign markets, which were to
be conquered by brute force.

" The East China railway should have created
new markets for us, and have connected Europe
and the East by a trade route. The Russo-
Japanese War destroyed these hopes. The railway
has lost 700 versts of its best and most pro-
ductive portion ; we have lost the port of Dalny
(Talienwan), which was equipped to perfection.
We cannot hope great things from the exporta-
tion of our merchandise to Southern Manchuria,
where the Japanese are the masters. Our trade
with Mongolia is equally in a stagnant condi-
tion. . . . Our position in the Far East being
compromised as a result of the war, the eye
naturally returns toward the West, and above all
to the Near East. A series of Chambers of


Commerce has been established— Anglo-Russian,
Russo-Belgian, and so forth. At the same time
companies have been formed for the exporta-
tion of general merchandise, and especially for
export to the Balkans. . . . But, notwithstand-
ing the simultaneous efforts of the Government,
and the commercial and industrial circles, the
exportation of manufactured articles is increasing
far too slowly. Our position in the Near East
is weak. In the West there is nothing to hope
for. ' Friendly ' Germany is pushing us toward
Asia, but in Persia our affairs are in a bad way,
and threaten to grow still worse in the future-
thanks to the German competition. We have
lost the market of the rich southern portion of
Manchuria, and the market offered by its northern
portion is poor and unstable. Foreign compe-
tition is successfully driving us out of Mongolia.
Hence the tendencies which are now apparent
among us, which demand the employment of
armed force, that we may retain possession of
these markets ; so that we find ourselves on the
eve of new colonial adventures. ... In a
word, the historical phase which was passed
through before the Revolution is about to be

Such is the description of the political situa-
tion of Russia in Eastern Asia after the Russo-
Japanese War, in respect of the economical
basis of that policy, as it appeared to a worthy


Russian economist whose book was published in
191 1 .'

But while a few small political and economic
circles hoped for a continuation of the old orien-
tation of the foreign politics of Russia— that is,
the continuation of the march toward the Far
East— there were others— and among them were
many Liberals— who insisted that Russia should
concentrate her attention and her energies on
regions less remote, notably on Asia Minor, the
shores of the Black Sea, and the Balkans. It
must be admitted that this tendency is founded
on interests and considerations of an important
nature. Russia is one of the " granaries of the
world." Her foreign trade consists above all
in the exportation of cereals.

" A glance at the statistics of our cereal exports
will show that their centre of gravity since the
year 1896 lies in the ports of the south. During
the last twelve years the part played by the
regions of the south, south-east, and south-west
in the foreign trade of Russia has been still
further enlarged. In 1909, 76 per cent, of all
the wheat, 91 per cent, of all the barley, 53 per
cent, of all the rye, and 83 per cent, of all the
maize exported from Russia was exported from
the ports of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov." =

' See the great economic work of M. A. Finn-Yenotaevsky
Sovremenno'ie Khoziaistvo Rossiyi ("The Modern Economy of
Russia"), Petersburg, 191 1, pp. 408-12.

^ Ibid. pp. 425-6.


Cereals are the principal article of Russia's
foreign trade. The ports of the Black Sea are
the chief outlets for the foreign export of Russian
grain. From this you can judge the importance
of the Eastern Question, the question of the
Dardanelles, etc., for the whole of Russia, from
the point of view of her economic interests.

Add to these the problem of the commercial
relations existing between Russia and Germany,
which are connected by a highly developed com-
mercial exchange, the nature of which I shall
presently explain. Finally, consider the position
of Germany and Russia on the Baltic, which is
the second great route of the foreign trade of
Russia, and which is really in the possession of
the powerful German Nav^, and you will readily
perceive that the economic interests of Russia
in the West are far greater than in the Far East,
and that Russia cannot completely ignore what
is passing in Asia Minor, in the Balkans, and on
her western frontiers.


Certain Russian politicians were even of
opinion that Russia ought resolutely to abandon
the old direction of her military and diplomatic
policy, which looked toward the Asiatic Orient,
and that this policy should confine itself to
Europe and the Balkans. This opinion was dis-
puted by the supporters of the Asiatic policy.


One of these latter, Baron Rosen, who had been
Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, Tokio, and
Washington, and who was a colleague of M.
Witte at the time of the negotiations with Japan
which took place at Portsmouth, published, in
1913, a very interesting confidential memoir
dealing with this subject, of which the issue was
withdrawn from circulation — it is said by order
of the Government. I believe my readers will
feel grateful to me for quoting the essential por-
tion of this memoir.'

" After the check occasioned by the last war,"
writes M. Rosen, " and the defeat of our entire
policy in the Far East— a policy qualified as a
mere adventure by people who did not realize
the vast importance to Russia of her interests in
those regions, a policy which deserved that
epithet only because it was not in time supported
by all the forces of the State— the idea seems
firmly to have rooted itself in the mind of the
public that Russia should once more seek the
centre of her political interests in Europe."

M. Rosen does not share this opinion. He
does not believe that Russia has any historic
mission in the Near East ; he does not consider
the " Slav idea " to have any real basis ; he is
not of opinion that it corresponds with the real

' A detailed account of this memoir, with many quotations,
was published in the French review Le Correspo?idatit, Septem-
ber 1913.


interests of Russia. So far the defence of the
" Slav idea " has had none but negative and
harmful results for Russia. It dragged the coun-
try into the war of 1877-8, which cleared the
ground for the Revolution ; it was the cause of
the estrangement between Germany and Russia
in the time of Bismarck, and the dissolution of
the alliance of " Three Emperors " which guaran-
teed the western frontier of Russia. Finally, says
M. Rosen, it " also pushed us to the conclusion
of an alliance with France which has involved
us in interests entirely foreign to Russia : namely,
the French desire to be revenged for Sedan and
the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, and, of late years,
the Anglo-German antagonism, which will be the
ground on which the coming European war will
be fought."

For M. Rosen " the great Slav ideal " is merely
the " verbal gymnastics of writers and orators
of the Slavophile camp "... devoid of any real

" All undertakings inspired by this idea— as,
for example, the Slav Bank, the exhibitions of
Russian products, the Russian libraries in Slav
countries, etc., either remain in the condition of
mere projects, or drag themselves through a
miserable existence. ... In the domain of
material civilization, Russia has no need of the
Slav world, nor the Slav world of Russia. In
the Slav States of the Balkans our industry, which


has at its disposal a vast home market defended
by extremely high protective tariffs, could only
at a loss compete with the Austro-German indus-
tries ; as for the Slavs of the south, their com-
mercial relations with the Austro-Hungarian
monarchy, their neighbour, will always be more
advantageous than their relations with distant

" From the intellectual standpoint, the Slavs
of the Balkans (and still more those of Austria),
despite a somewhat factitious Germanophobia,
evidently prefer— and this is very natural — to tap
directly and at first hand the Western sources,
and principally those of Germany. ... As for
the sympathies of the Austrian Slavs, which we
are told are irresistibly pro-Russian, it is only
too obvious that their flirtations with us have
one sole object, and that essentially a selfish one :
it is, to flaunt before the Austrian Government
the bogy of Pan-Slavism under Russian hege-
mony, in order to obtain from it the desired con-
cessions. . . . Our continual advances, in the
press and in the speeches of certain amateur poli-
ticians, toward the Austrian Slavs, have in the
end impelled Austria to retort by very undesir-
able and even dangerous advances to our own
' Mazeppists,' ' Ukrainophiles, and other ele-
ments hostile to the Russian Empire, which enter-

' The supporters of the pohcy inaugurated by the famous
Cossack hetnian Mazeppa.


tain treacherous dreams of the dismemberment
of Russia."

Baron Rosen pronounces in favour of an
understanding with Austria.

" The only cause of armed conflict with Austria
that can be foreseen is precisely the opposition
which we are offering to her Balkan policy. . . .
This antagonism is the cause of a state of affairs
very dangerous for us, thanks to which, every
time any disturbance occurs in the Balkan
Peninsula, arises the possibility that Austria will
intervene as the Power chiefly interested by reason
of her geographical position, and for us the possi-
bility of a conflict with her, and therefore of a
European conflagration."

Russia, M. Rosen holds, ought to reconcile
herself to the Austrian penetration of the

" Austria, like Germany, is passing through a
period of growth. . . . The only possible outlet
is indicated by her geographical position ; rejected
by the Germanic Confederation, she has turned
her eyes toward the Slav south. The movement
of Austria toward the Slav south does not clash
with the real interests of Russia. On the other
hand, Austria will meet with complications which
should sufficiently make her aware of the value
of amicable relations with Russia."

An alliance between Russia and Germany ap-
peared to M. Rosen to be even more necessary.


Allied with France and England, Russia finds
herself in a camp hostile to Germany. M. Rosen
believes that the entire responsibility of this
hostility falls, not upon Russia but upon Fjrance
and England. " In the forefront of the causes
of this reciprocal hostility we see the irreconcil-
able antagonism between France and Germany,
founded on the French idea of revenge for Sedan
and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine. To this cause
has been added, of late years, another, which is

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Online LibraryGrigorii AleksinskiiRussia and the great war → online text (page 1 of 19)