Russian Expansion, Self-reflection, and its Absence from Russian Policy – from Sarajevo to the Princes’ Islands (1914–1919)
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Russian expansionism in Europe during World War I – despite the temporary victories - by the end of 1916 concluded to an occasional and by the spring of 1918 a decisive defeat. Tsar Nicholas II was the first who was willing to take steps towards peace that led to the fiasco of Tsarism which was the most influential cause of the Russian Revolution and foundation of the Russian Republic by the end of February in 1917. The new Russian Provisional government had been emphasizing the goal of the final victory continuously, which led to the victory of the anti-expansionist Bolshevik movement. Lenin’s followers had signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, Austro-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria at the spring of 1918, but after the defeat of the Central Powers in the autumn of 1918 the Bolshevik government declared it null and void in all respects. The Allied Powers originally counted on the participation of Russia at the peace talks in Versailles, but by January 1918 they changed their mind. At the same time they had made steps to bring about a joint Russian position, so they invited all the Russian political movements and parties to Princes Islands nearby Constantinople. Nevertheless, the Russians were not able to form a common standpoint, partly because they were conflicting amongst themselves, on the one hand, and partly because their expansionist programs were contradictional to each other and were not based on a real strong and functioning military power.
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