Istanbul Agreement 1915

Russian Foreign Minister during the war, Sergey Sazonov (1860-1927), stressed the importance of Constantinople and the Strait for Russia and claimed the city when the war began in 1914. The conservative Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia (1868-1918), also sympathized with these ideas. In a bold attempt to consolidate his policy, Sazonov sent a secret memorandum to London and Paris in March 1915 to highlight Russian claims to Constantinople and the strait. In exchange, the Russians accepted British and French wishes from Ottoman countries in the Middle East. However, in 1915, Russia revealed itself annus horribilis. On May 2, 1915, while the Russian Black Sea Squadron was making its diversionary U-turns on the Bosphorus to help the British, while ANZAC and French troops were stranded under heavy fire on the European and Asian coasts of the Dardanelles, the Germans broke the Russian lines near Gorlice-Tarnov and opened a rupture in the northern European plain. This summer, the Great Withdrawal of Russia was to take place, as most of Russian Poland, including the original Tsarist military headquarters (Stavka) in Baranovitchi and Warsaw itself, fell on the Austrian Germans. The withdrawal caused terrible suffering and caused the exodus of nearly two million civilian refugees, including about 500,000 Jews, driven from the frontline areas for fear of helping the Germans on the march. In its moment of settling scores with the Germans – which almost overthrew the Tsarist regime (Tsar Nicholas II himself took command of the army in September 1915 to restore morale) – Russia was hardly able to launch an amphibious coup on Constantinople.

In a terrible temporal cooperative, ottoman Armenians were undergoing their own moment of settling scores in May 1915, when the notoriously brutal Ottoman deportation campaign began in eastern Turkey (a campaign that was to extend far beyond the front lines in the summer). The Russian Caucasus Army in Tbilisi, called upon to relieve the European armies of Russia, could no longer come to the aid of the besieged Ottoman Armenians that the Odessa Black Sea Command could seriously consider sending 40,000 amphibious soldiers to the Bosphorus. The Governments of the British Empire, France and Italy, which, in agreement with the Japanese Government, finally wish to restore peace in the East and, on the one hand, after having asked Greece, Romania, the Serbo-Croatian-Slovenian State and, on the other hand, the United States of America and Turkey to examine together the provisions for achieving the desired result in the same way by all nations; Although the British and French tried to limit Russian claims, they were unable to do so and also had to face the possibility of Russia concluding a separate peace with the middle powers. [19] The agreement was part of a series of agreements on the division of the Ottoman Empire by the Triple Entente and Italy after the war, including the Treaty of London (1915), the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), and the Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Agreement (April to August 1917). . . .