The study is devoted to the question of the outbreak of war in August 1914. The author analyses the imperial aims of the individual great powers and their war aims. He takes a critical view of the attempts of some authors to transfer the blame for the war to all the participants. According to the author, having imperial aims and starting a war are two different things. The Central Powers played the key role in starting the war in the summer of 1914. Germany used various channels to put pressure on its ally Austria-Hungary to start the war quickly.