Military Review

How Russia saved Serbia from defeat

While Vienna and St. Petersburg were conducting secret talks about Turkey, the political situation changed again. Circumstances forced Disraeli’s pro-Turkish cabinet to slightly change its foreign policy course. In England, the details of Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria were announced. The leader of the liberal party, William Gladstone, used the situation to attack the Disraeli cabinet.

He published the brochure “Bulgarian Horrors” and took an active part in organizing a public movement against the eastern policy of Benjamin Disraeli. The brochure had a significant impact on society. Denouncing the "Turkish race" as "one great anti-human instance of the human race," Gladstone offered to grant autonomy to Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria, and also to cease to render unconditional support to Porte.

At this point, big business, the moneylenders of Britain were outraged by the behavior of Turkey, so the course of Gladstone received strong support. The fact was that after the Crimean (Eastern) War, London, together with Paris, threw a financial noose on Istanbul. The port presented large loans, bringing large profits. Loans were issued under 5-6% per annum, well above the average percentage of that time, and even with 6-7% commissions in favor of bankers. Prior to 1875, the port was lent about 200 million pounds (up to 2 billion rubles). The moneylenders just ruined Turkey. In October, 1875, the Port announced a state bankruptcy. As a result, large capitalist parasites in England were alarmed and angered by Turkey’s behavior. They demanded that the Disraeli cabinet pressure the debtor. And Disraeli at this time did not want to put pressure on Porto, she needed him as a weapon against Russia. Such a policy Disraeli irritated lenders who are most concerned about his pocket.

The embarrassment of the conservative government of England was in the hands of Russia, which needed to save Serbia, which overestimated the weakness of the enemy and its military capabilities. It turned out that the Turkish forces managed to cope much more easily with the Serbian army (rather weak at the time) than with the rebels of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July, the 1876 Serb offensive was stopped, and at the end of the month the Serbs began to retreat. The Turkish army launched an offensive. 30 July the Turks besieged the border town of Kniazhevac. City fell 6 August. After the capture of Knyazhevatz, the road to Niš was opened. During the month, the Turkish army captured a number of Serbian fortresses and cities. Serbia was on the verge of a military disaster. 26 August Serbian Prince Milan Obrenovic appealed to the great powers about mediation to end the war. All the great powers agreed. The British offered the Turkish government to grant Serbia a truce for one month and immediately begin peace talks. The rest of the great powers supported this demand.

How Russia saved Serbia from defeat

Montenegrin Warriors

The truce

Meanwhile, a new palace coup took place in Istanbul. Sultan Murad V ruled for a short time - from the end of May to the end of August 1876. His psyche was weak, which was worsened by drunkenness, so the unexpected enthronement, the murder of ousted Sultan Abdul-Aziz, the murder of several ministers, shook the sultan's nervous system, exhausted by various excesses. He "went to the roof." Midhad Pasha and some other dignitaries, dissatisfied or not completely satisfied with the new state of affairs, took advantage of this and staged a new conspiracy. Sheikh-ul-Islam issued a fatwa, which recognized the right to overthrow the mad Sultan. 31 August 1876, 93 a day after he ascended the throne, Murad was deposed, and his brother Abdul-Hamid II became the new sultan. Murad was not dangerous, so he was left alive.

Upon assuming the throne, Abdul-Hamid II (1876-1909) promised to proclaim a constitution and hold parliamentary elections. In the early days of his reign, Abdul-Hamid gained a common love and great popularity in the army: he often visited the barracks, participated in officer officers' lunches. In foreign policy, the new sultan followed the “policy of promises”, eagerly given, constantly changing and never fulfilled. This policy, which became a characteristic feature of his reign (he applied it within the country), led to endless diplomatic correspondence and delayed the resolution of issues for an indefinite period of time. The new Turkish government agreed to a truce until early October.

Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid II (1876-1909)

In the meantime, the possibility of the “amicable” partition of Turkey was discussed in London. 4 September 1876 of the year in a letter to Foreign Minister Earl of Derby, the British Prime Minister expressed doubts about the success of the truce and predicted that the matter would be delayed until the spring, when Austria and Russia would move the troops to the Balkans and resolve the Eastern issue. “And if this is so,” he noted, “it is prudent for us to take the leadership in our hands.” Disraeli outlined "the division of Balkan mining between Russia and Austria with friendly services of England." At the same time, he believed that "Constantinople with the appropriate area should be neutralized and turned into a free port under the protection and care of England following the example of the Ionian Islands. In fact, London presented a plan for the partition of Turkey, although outwardly Disraeli’s cabinet favored the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The British wanted to expand their zone of influence in the Middle East at the expense of Turkey, not to let competitors go there.

Formally, Derby put forward a peace plan: peace with Serbia based on the status quo, local autonomy for Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria. The Derby program was supported by the other five great powers. Petersburg willingly supported this program. At the same time, in order to protect Constantinople from being captured by the British, Gorchakov proposed to introduce a united squadron of all great powers into the Sea of ​​Marmara. On the other hand, Vienna reluctantly agreed and did not intend to follow this program. The Austro-Hungarian government could not allow the autonomy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, since it was a big step towards their national liberation and unification with Serbia. And this led to a significant strengthening of Belgrade - Vienna received a competitor in the Balkans, and the development possibilities of the Slavic movement in the very “patchwork” empire of the Hapsburgs. The Austrians themselves planned to seize Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the end of September, 1876, Russia proposed its plan to solve the crisis. Gorchakov supported the idea of ​​autonomy of the insurgent regions of the Turkish Empire. And in order to force Porto to make concessions, Russia had to temporarily occupy Bulgaria, Austria - Bosnia, and the united squadron of all great powers entered the straits. In early October, the Vienna Court decisively rejected the offer of St. Petersburg. In a letter from Emperor Franz Joseph of 2 in October 1876, the idea of ​​autonomy of the Slavic regions was strongly rejected and the futility of their temporary occupation was expressed. The Austrians hinted at the possibility of a deal on the basis outlined in the Reichstadt. Vienna claimed permanent possession of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 10 October 1876, Tsar Alexander II wrote a letter to Franz Joseph. He agreed to a deal based on the Reichstadt Agreement. October 23 Austrians agreed.

London rejected the idea of ​​a joint invasion of the straits, exposing its secret plans to seize Constantinople. At the same time, the British began to frighten the public opinion of Europe with the Russian invasion of Bulgaria. They say that the appearance of the Russians in Bulgaria will be the beginning of the real “Bulgarian horrors”.

Petersburg finally became convinced that nobody in Europe supported Russia's plans. Tsar Alexander II and Gorchakov hoped for the support of Germany in a possible conflict with Turkey and Austria. However, Bismarck made it clear that Germany could not allow Russia to defeat Austria-Hungary. Bismarck advised the Russian government to buy the neutrality of Vienna, allowing it to capture Bosnia. At the same time, Bismarck hinted to Gorchakov that Germany could go to the active support of Russia, if she guarantees her the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Bismarck said: “With the current Eastern complications, the only benefit for us would be the Russian guarantee of Alsace. We could use this combination to completely defeat France again. ” Bismarck dreamed of finally defeating France in order to achieve the hegemony of the German Empire in Western Europe. However, Gorchakov decisively rejected such an agreement. The Russian government believed that the repeated defeat of France would not bring Russia benefit and refused to give France to the mercy of Germany.

Making sure that the war with Austria would cause a conflict with Germany, in St. Petersburg they realized that the war with Turkey could only be started by agreeing with Vienna. It was necessary to ensure the calm rear of the Russian army, the protection of its communications, that is, to achieve the neutrality of Austria-Hungary. The basics of such a deal were outlined in the Reichstadt. The Austrians also wanted such a deal. In Vienna, they were afraid of war with the Russians. The Austrians probed the possibility of support from Germany. However, Bismarck, who did not want a war between Russia and Austria, said that in the case of the Austro-Russian war, Vienna could only count on the support of England. Bismarck did not intend to prevent Russia from starting a war with Turkey, this helped Germany to play the role of arbitrator, but tried to prevent the Austro-Russian war, which was in the interests of England and destroyed the alliance of the three emperors.

Chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck

Constantinople Conference

In the meantime, the Port, following the “policy of promises”, was delaying the issue of peace negotiations. The new ruler of Turkey, who later became famous as the “bloody sultan”, was a cruel man and at the same time sly and cunning. He was able to play on the rivalry of the great powers. Turkey itself was covered by pan-Islamism, Muslim fanatics dictated their rules in society. Considering this, and hoping for contradictions between the great powers, the Port was not going to yield to the Christian population of the Balkan provinces. At the same time, the government promised a constitution and reforms throughout the country. Like, in such conditions, separate concessions to the Christians of the rebel areas are not needed. Istanbul was not going to give in to Serbia.

After a short truce, fighting in October 1876 resumed. The Serbian army again launched a large-scale offensive on the left bank of the Morava, but did not succeed. The Turks resumed the offensive. The Serbian army suffered a complete defeat and began to retreat. The departure of the Serbs was covered by Russian volunteers. After the new heavy defeats, the Serbian army could no longer continue to fight. The Russian general, the Serbian commander-in-chief Chernyaev, informed the prince Milan Obrenovic about this. Milan telegraphed to Emperor Alexander II, begging him to save Serbia from total defeat. October 15 held a special meeting in Livadia chaired by Tsar Alexander, with the participation of the heir to the throne, War Minister Milutin, Gorchakov, Minister of Finance Reitern, Minister of the Imperial Court Adlerberg and Ambassador to Turkey Ignatieff. Peaceful position defended Reytern and Milyutin. It was decided to insist on the earliest convening of a peace conference in Constantinople to discuss the question of the future structure of the Christian regions of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. If the conference does not take place or does not lead to the desired results, then begin to mobilize the army to put military-diplomatic pressure on Turkey. If this does not help, then start a war by concluding an alliance with Romania and an agreement with Austria.

On October 31, the Russian ambassador to Turkey on behalf of Alexander II presented the Ottoman Empire an ultimatum on which Turkey had to conclude an armistice with Serbia and Montenegro for 48 weeks to 6 months during 2 hours. In the event that Turkey refuses to fulfill the conditions of the ultimatum, the Russian army, as part of 200, thousands of soldiers stationed in Bessarabia, will cross the border of the Ottoman Empire. The next day, Port accepted an ultimatum and agreed to a two-month truce. Russian ultimatum saved Serbia from complete military defeat. If it were not for Russia, the Turks would have taken Belgrade.

After that, Russia and England made another attempt to resolve the Balkan issue within the framework of the “European concert and without war. The English government made a formal proposal to convene a conference. The rest of the powers supported the idea of ​​convening a conference in Constantinople. Russia was represented by Count Ignatiev. 11 November, Tsar Alexander II made a public statement in Moscow. He said that Russia wants peace, but is ready, if Turkey does not carry out reforms in the interests of Christian subjects, to act independently. Speech was reinforced by partial mobilization. For its part, England also led some military preparations. Malta strengthened the garrison. British officers inspected the Turkish fortifications in Thrace and studied the possibility of an English landing in Constantinople.

December 11 The 1876 Conference in Constantinople began work. Representatives of the great powers spoke in favor of granting autonomy to Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria. At the same time, Bulgaria, on the proposal of the Austrians, was divided into Eastern and Western. The introduction of the autonomous device was to be monitored by the European Commission. 23 December the official opening of the conference. Here the Ottomans surprised everyone (except for the British, with whom they consulted). Sultan tentatively appointed the leader of the “new Ottomans,” Midhad Pasha, a supporter of the introduction of the constitution, as grand vizier. The Turkish government informed the representatives of the great powers that the country now has a constitution, therefore the conference’s works are unnecessary, since by giving the subjects a constitution, the sultan granted all (including Christians) the necessary rights and freedoms. On this basis, the Port rejected the conference proposal. The soul of this comedy was the British, in particular, Ambassador Elliot.

The Russian representative offered to force Porto to enforce the decisions of the conference. As a result, representatives of the great powers offered Porte to adopt the draft conference at least in a reduced form. However, the obvious differences and the weak position of the great powers only podsozhali ottomans. In addition, they relied on the tacit support of Britain. Port again rejected the proposals of the conference. The powers recalled their ambassadors, but this did not change anything. The only positive result of the conference was the peace negotiations of Turkey with Montenegro and Serbia. 28 February 1877 was signed by the Serbo-Turkish peace treaty on the basis of the pre-war status quo. But peace was not concluded with Montenegro: the Montenegrins demanded territorial increments, and the Ottomans did not agree.

Budapest Convention

After the failure of the Constantinople Conference, Bismarck advised the Russian government to start a war. He recommended Petersburg not to stand on ceremony with Romania and promised support in concluding an amicable agreement with Vienna. Bismarck wanted to draw Russia into oriental affairs and push it with England, so that no one would prevent Germany from dealing with France.

Russia and Austria-Hungary were actively negotiating with a view to working out a common program in the event of a Russian-Turkish war. January 15 The secret convention was signed in Budapest on January 1877, which ensured the neutrality of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the war against Turkey. In exchange, Vienna has achieved the desired - the right to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Austrians promised not to wage hostilities in Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. Russia promised not to extend military operations to Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. At the same time, Vienna agreed to the participation of Serbia and Montenegro in the war against the Turkish Empire on the side of Russia. 18 March 1877, an additional convention was signed that provided for the expected results of the war. Territorial acquisitions in Europe were limited to: for Austria-Hungary - Bosnia and Herzegovina, except for the Novo-Bazarsky Sanjak, that is, the territory separating Serbia from Montenegro, it was proposed to conclude a separate agreement; for Russia, the return of Southwest Bessarabia. Thus, Russia was inferior in the Bosnian question.

The agreement also confirmed the conditions of the Reichstadt Agreement on the prevention of the creation of a large Slavic state in the Balkans. Bulgaria, Albania and the rest of Rumelia (the European possessions of Turkey) could become independent states. Constantinople could become a free city. Both conventions were signed by Andrassy and the Russian ambassador to Vienna, Novikov. Thus, Russia was able to fight against Turkey, but the results of its possible victory were significantly curtailed in advance. Russia, in order to avoid an Austrian strike in its rear, made big concessions. Austria-Hungary for the neutrality received the desired - Bosnia and Herzegovina.

London Protocol. Russia declares war on Turkey

Meanwhile, Berlin tried to use the Middle East turmoil to start a new war with France. In January, 1877, the German press again raised the hype, finding fault with rumors about the concentration of French troops on the border with the German Empire. Bismarck processed both Russia and England, so that they stayed away from the possible Franco-German war. Petersburg Bismarck urged to start a war with Turkey: Russia “must go forward. We can not allow the possibility to say that Russia has retreated before Turkey. " Bismarck seduced Petersburg with the conquest of Constantinople.

The Bismarck seduced the British with the seizure of Egypt, which was to embroil England with France. The German Chancellor assured the British ambassador that France was preparing an invasion of Germany, and asked England to observe benevolent neutrality. In exchange, he offered assistance in Turkish affairs. In February, 1877 Mr. Bismarck offered England a military alliance. However, England did not agree to an alliance with Germany. In the interests of London was to save France, as a counterbalance to the significantly strengthened Germany. The constant struggle of the French and the Germans was in the interests of Britain.

As a result, a new French-German military alarm in London decided to find a compromise with Russia over the Turkish problem. In February, 1877 between Russian ambassador in London, Peter Shuvalov and Lord Derby, began negotiations on the Turkish issue. Turkey was recommended to carry out reforms, which the Port itself had previously promised. Count Ignatiev went on a tour of European capitals in order to achieve a "European concert." Ignatiev first visited Berlin. Bismarck promised to support the Russian project. Moreover, 4 in March, he promised Ignatiev support for Vienna and its compliance with friendly neutrality in the case of the Russian-Turkish war. Then Ignatiev visited Paris and London.

19 March 1877, the representatives of the six powers signed the London Protocol. The great powers offered Porte to demobilize the army, and begin the reforms necessary "for calm and well-being" of the Christian regions of the Turkish Empire. However, no serious measures of pressure on Turkey were envisaged. April 9 Port rejected the London Protocol. Istanbul said it sees it as interference in the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire, "contrary to the dignity of the Turkish state." The port still counted on the support of England in the war with Russia, therefore it acted so bravely.

Russia responded to 15 on April with additional mobilization. 16 April agreement with Romania was signed on the transition of the Russian army through its territory. 23 April Russia broke off diplomatic relations with Turkey. The Russian Tsar arrived in Chisinau and on April 24 signed a manifesto declaring war on Turkey. In May 1877, the Russian troops entered the territory of Romania. Vigorous fighting in the Balkan front began, however, only at the end of June 1877.

Chancellor of the Russian Empire Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov
Articles from this series:
War 1877-1878 years.

"Constantinople must be ours ..." 140 years ago, Russia declared war on Turkey
"Turkey must cease to exist"
How England battled Russia with Austria-Hungary and Turkey

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  1. Cxnumx
    Cxnumx 12 May 2017 07: 11
    interesting ATP
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 12 May 2017 07: 22
    At the same time, he believed that “Constantinople with the corresponding region should be neutralized and turned into a free port under the protection and guardianship of England
    ... So the British always thought ... Therefore, they were one of the first to recognize the Provisional Government ... Because Nicholas II .. made it from the allies that the straits would come under Russian control ...
  3. Olgovich
    Olgovich 12 May 2017 08: 54
    March 19, 1877 representatives six powers signed the London protocol. The great powers offered Porte to demobilize the army, and begin the reforms necessary "for peace and prosperity" of the Christian regions of the Turkish Empire. Istanbul said it was considering it as interference in the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire, "Contrary to the dignity of the Turkish state"

    What is interesting is that just 23 years ago, the same five countries (except Russia) ALSO considered the actions of Russia in the Balkans as "interference in the internal affairs of Turkey" and because of this unleashed the Crimean War. Apparently, then, 23 years ago, the situation of Christian areas was wonderful. Bastards.
    Russian Tsar arrived in Chisinau and on April 24 signed a manifesto declaring war on Turkey.

    At the same time, a PARADE review of Russian troops and Bulgarian militias took place on the Skakov Field of Chisinau in the presence of the Emperor. In memory of this starting point of Russia's liberation campaign, this field was built in 1882 г monument chapel, carefully preserved in our time by the forces of the Bulgarian community ..
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 12 May 2017 15: 15
      Olgovich, you are not quite right: “23 years ago, the situation of the Christian regions was excellent,” then they were “Muslims” themselves (remember how the British flirted with the Turkish fundamentalists), and now they have become Christians and “saw” the Turkish disgraces
      1. cost
        cost 13 May 2017 01: 54
        They began to process the Russian emperors to help Serbia during the time of Peter I. The Miloradovich family was especially distinguished in this. Great-grandmother Mikhail Andreevich Miloradovich, daughter of the general Zaporizhzhya yesul Butovich, Ulyana Stepanovna Butovich “on behalf of the tsar” for this even began to gather troops from Zaporizhzhya and Don Cossacks. Peter from this was furious. Miloradovichi and the Zaporizhzhya Hetman Apostle were called to Petersburg and put in a fortress, where they were interrogated and languished until the death of Peter I. In 1725, upon accession to the throne of Catherine, they were released and restored to their rights.
  4. Monarchist
    Monarchist 12 May 2017 15: 48
    Alexander, thank you for the story: we well need to know our story. Like you, it seemed to me that history repeats itself: “it was necessary for him as a weapon against Russia” (replace Porto with the 404th power and Disraeli surname with *** and the situation repeats itself.
    Just as the public was then frightened by the “Russian threat” now. Details are changing: then the Russian Cossacks (the fiend of hell), later the "Russian Bolsheviks" (again the "children" of Satan), and now the "Russian hackers."
    Poor Vladimir Vladimirovich, I don’t envy him: he cannot send them all to .... An interesting place. When you do something difficult and put it simply, it’s easier and easier, but BB cannot put it that way.
    As then the EIV had to compromise in order to secure Austrian neutrality and now the BB has to compromise with the Sultan, and now with the “shaggy”, then the goal was to save Serbia and OBREROVICH, and now SYRIA and ASAD A
    1. cost
      cost 13 May 2017 01: 33
      Maybe all the same, not OBREROVICH, but Obrenovich
  5. Mikhail Matyugin
    Mikhail Matyugin 17 May 2017 17: 04
    The British, as usual, beautifully divorced everyone, dragging Russia into another war that was unnecessary to her for the interests of others, then depriving them of the few fruits of victory. Well done. They know how.