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281 Squab­ bling over the ­ Spoils Late Im­ pe­ rial ­ Russia’s Ri­ valry with ­ France in the Near East Ro­ nald P. Bo­ broff The ­ Franco-Russian Al­ li­ ance, from its be­ gin­ nings in 1891 ­ through its de­ mise with the Rus­ sian Rev­ o­ lu­ tion in 1917, is best re­ mem­ bered for the way ­ France and Rus­ sia coop­ er­ ated pri­ mar­ ily to re­ sist what was per­ ceived as a grow­ ing ­ threat from Ger­ many. In­ deed, this al­ li­ ance ­ formed one side of a di­ ar­ chy of al­ li­ ances that en­ gen­ dered the ten­ sions fa­ cil­ i­ tat­ ing the be­ gin­ ning of the First World War in 1914. How­ ever, while the two part­ ners stood to­ gether ­ against Ger­ many, their coop­ er­ a­ tion re­ gard­ ing the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire was ­ strained, as Paris and St. Pe­ ters­ burg had quite dif­ fer­ ent inter­ ests in the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire and its ul­ ti­ mate fate. That these dif­ fer­ ences over the East­ ern Ques­ tion ­ nearly ­ wrecked the Dual Al­ li­ ance, even in the midst of war, shows how vital Near East­ ern is­ sues were to ­ France, to Rus­ sia, and to Eu­ rope as a whole. Be­ fore the First World War, ­ France ­ sought to han­ dle the Sub­ lime Porte care­ fully in order to pre­ serve the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire for as long as pos­ sible to pro­ tect its own fi­ nan­ cial inter­ ests and in­ flu­ ence in the Near East. In­ deed, ­ France had often main­ tained a work­ ing re­ la­ tion­ ship with the Ot­ to­ mans as far back as the six­ teenth cen­ tury. Rus­ sia, in ­ contrast, 282 Ronald P. Bobroff usu­ ally a rival of the Ot­ to­ mans, had lit­ tle mon­ e­ tary in­ vest­ ment, so could af­ ford to pur­ sue a ­ blunter ap­ proach. ­ Russia’s se­ cur­ ity con­ cerns, how­ ever, were great as the Ot­ to­ man navy began to mod­ ern­ ize. Rus­ sia felt ob­ li­ gated to re­ spond with the con­ struc­ tion of its own cap­ i­ tal ships on the Black Sea, lead­ ing to a naval race of sorts ­ between the two coun­ tries. With the out­ break of war in 1914, the dis­ par­ ate fi­ nan­ cial en­ gage­ ment ­ largely gave way to dis­ agree­ ments about the Ot­ to­ man ­ Empire’s ul­ ti­ mate par­ ti­ tion, which ex­ posed the mis­ align­ ment of ­ France and ­ Russia ’s geo­ stra­ tegic goals. This dis­ cord over the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire dur­ ing the last ­ decade of Rom­ a­ nov rule il­ lu­ mi­ nates the pre­ car­ i­ ous na­ ture of the ­ Franco-Russian Al­ li­ ance. Dis­ agree­ ment over ad­ min­ is­ tra­ tion and par­ ti­ tion of Ot­ to­ man lands ­ strained the al­ li­ ance to the limit dur­ ing the First World War. Schol­ ars have stud­ ied the ­ Franco-Russian re­ la­ tion­ ship both as a sub­ ject in its own right and via stud­ ies of the ­ events of the time. Most mono­ graphs that ex­ am­ ine the al­ li­ ance con­ cen­ trate on its or­ i­ gins.1­ Shorter works have ­ looked more ­ broadly at the al­ li­ ance, yet au­ thors have pre­ dom­ i­ nantly fo­ cused on the fi­ nan­ cial re­ la­ tion­ ship ­ between the two ­ states.2 Fur­ ther­ more, each of the cri­ ses on the road to war in 1914 has re­ ceived at­ ten­ tion by his­ to­ rians, but no one has an­ a­ lyzed the ­ French and Rus­ sian po­ si­ tions over the whole se­ ries of cri­ ses—par­ tic­ u­ larly those cri­ ses that re­ lated to the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire—in order to draw out les­ sons about the al­ li­ ance dy­ namic. In­ deed, the ­ Franco-Russian dis­ agree­ ment over the Ot­ to­ man Em­ pire and its in­ her­ i­ tance shows us how the East­ ern Ques­ tion could mag­ nify as well as ­ transcend the is­ sues that usu­ ally de­ fined re­ la­ tion­ ships ­ within Eu­ rope.­ Though ­ rather over­ shad­ owed by...


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