140 years ago, in July 1878, the Berlin Treaty was signed. Russia under pressure from the West was deprived of a significant part of the fruits of its victory over Turkey.
After the conclusion of the San Stefano Treaty (How Russia lost a historic chance to take Constantinople and the Straits), which generally suited Russia and the Balkan countries, Austria-Hungary proposed to assemble an international congress to discuss the conditions of peace between Russia and Turkey, and not only the status of the straits, which St. Petersburg had previously agreed to. The Russian government agreed to discuss the conditions of a "European character".
Petersburg's resilience was due to the fact that from the very beginning of the war with the Ottoman Empire, the Russian government was afraid of worsening relations with Austria and England. These fears were especially intensified due to the contradictory position of Germany. So, in February 1878, the German Chancellor Bismarck made a speech in which he stated that he was no more an “honest broker” to the Eastern question: his task was to bring the matter to an end as soon as possible. That is, Russia has lost support for Germany in the Eastern issue, since Petersburg did not want to meet Berlin in the French issue. Germany sought to smash France a second time in order to once and for all resolve the issue of Alsace and Lorraine and leadership in Western Europe, while Russia prevented the Germans from doing so. Not having received Russia's support in this vital issue for Germany, Bismarck stopped supporting St. Petersburg, although initially he was ready to assist the Russians in dividing Turkey. Now the German Chancellor decided to play the role of "peacemaker", which strengthen Berlin's position in European politics, strengthen the Anglo-Russian contradictions. Now he "advised" Russia in the interests of the world to agree to a congress.
The Russian government, fearing war with the collective West and a repetition of the Crimean scenario 1854 - 1856, reconciled itself to the need to give the conditions of peace with Turkey to the court and the decision of the European Congress. Commanders-in-chief of the Balkan and Caucasian armies, grand dukes Nikolai Nikolayevich and Mikhail Nikolayevich, military minister Milutin, minister of finance Reitern and chancellor Gorchakov — everyone believed that further war was dangerous. The Russian government after the end of hostilities did not reduce the armed forces, but, on the contrary, increased them by 200 thousand people. Plans of hostilities in the Caucasus and Balkan theaters were developed in case of war with the coalition of England, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. But on the whole, the ruling circles were dominated by the opinion that, given the international isolation of Russia and the exhaustion of the country's military and financial resources, it was difficult to expect victory in the war. “Even the military ... criticized the war,” wrote P. A. Shuvalov, “they openly said that we no longer have sufficient military means to continue the fight ... I found two commanders-in-chief in St. Petersburg. They urged me to do everything possible to prevent the continuation of the war. ”
It is worth noting that the fears of St. Petersburg were exaggerated. With Bismarck it was possible to negotiate at the expense of France. Paris could not prevent Russia from resolving the Turkish issue because of the 1870 catastrophe — 1871. Germany easily parried any hostile actions of France against Russia. Germany’s position would counterbalance the hostility of England and Austria. The British could put only the fleet and a small landing corps. In response, Russia occupied Constantinople and the straits, depriving the British of the opportunity to attack us. Austria did not dare to fight one-on-one with the Russian army, on the condition of Germany’s friendly neutrality, opposing her strengthened Serbia and the possibility of activating the national movement and the collapse of the Hapsburg “patchwork empire”. However, St. Petersburg did not dare to take such a decisive step in relation to its Western "partners" and to solve the thousand-year task of the Russian civilization (capture of Tsargrad-Constantinople and the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits).
The pro-Western matrix dominated St. Petersburg (which was one of the main prerequisites for the 1917 disaster of the year) and the Russian government tried to negotiate with the West. Almost always, such agreements were to the detriment of Russia's national interests. So, at the end of March 1878, Ignatiev was sent to Vienna to negotiate with the Austrians. Petersburg wanted to isolate England at the congress. However, the appetites of Vienna grew. Austria-Hungary now claimed not only Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also wanted to gain political and economic control over the entire western part of the Balkan Peninsula in one form or another. With the same purpose, Austria sought to push the borders of Bulgaria as far as possible to the east. To secure a free passage to Thessaloniki, to the coast of the Aegean Sea, Vienna also opposed the accession of the Novo-Bazarsky Sanjak to Serbia and Montenegro and its division between them. Austria did not want to strengthen Serbia. Russia could not cede dominance over the western part of the Austria-Hungary Balkans. As a result, the mission Ignatieff did not lead to success.
Meanwhile, London was pretending that it was ready to fight if Petersburg did not yield. The head of the British Cabinet Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield) made demonstrative military preparations. The Derby Lord, who did not want to aggravate relations with Russia, resigned. In St. Petersburg were scared. 18 March 1878, Tsar Alexander II wrote to his brother: "England is only looking for a pretext to declare war on us." Although in fact England was not ready for war. The British are accustomed to acting through the hands of others, receiving then the main benefits of the conflict. In addition, Lord Salisbury became Derby's successor. He also doubted the need for conflict with Russia. Salisbury believed that Russia needed to be intimidated to make it more accommodating, and then conclude an agreement advantageous to England. This is also the traditional policy of the Anglo-Saxons (in particular, the current US President Trump works in a similar way).
Thus, the British have made concessions from Russia. 30 May 1878 was signed the English-Russian agreement. Under this agreement, the border of Bulgaria moved away from Constantinople for the defensive line of the Balkan Mountains. England did not object to the transfer of Russia to Batum and Kars and to the return of Bessarabia to it. Russia refused Bayazet. The British received compensation - capturing Cyprus. That is, Britain received a naval base in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey was forced to cede Cyprus. 6 June 1878 England and Austria signed an agreement to draw a coordinated political line at the upcoming congress. Vienna agreed with London on the Bulgarian issue. The British and Austrians agreed to prevent the expansion of the Bulgarian territory south of the Balkan Range and limit the tenure of Russian troops in Bulgaria for 6 for months. England supported the claims of the Austrians in Bosnia.
Congress opened 13 June 1878 of the year in Berlin. It was attended by six great powers and Turkey. Representatives of the Balkan states were admitted to Berlin, but were not participants in the conference. The delegations of the great powers represented Bismarck Gorchakov, Beaconsfield, Andrassy, Waddington and Corti (Germany, Russia, England, Austria-Hungary, France and Italy). The situation of the Russian delegation was difficult. England and Austria were open enemies. Bismarck is an “honest broker” (Russia did not offer him anything). Paris at that time forgot that Petersburg defended it from the new blow of Germany and replaced the Russian orientation with English, supporting the position of Britain. The French hoped for an understanding of England in colonial affairs and for cooperation in Turkey (England and France turned the Ottoman Empire into their semi-colony). Italy, which did not play a serious role in European politics, adhered to the English orientation.
The main disputes were about the borders of Bulgaria and the extent of the rights of the Sultan in southern Bulgaria, located to the south of the Balkan Mountains. Here it was decided to create an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire - Eastern Rumelia. She did not get access to the Aegean Sea. Shortly after the opening of the congress, information about the English-Russian agreement came to press. This caused a scandal. English society reproached the government for being too "compliant." As a result, England took an even more intransigent position. 20 Jun Disraeli even threatened to leave the congress due to disagreements over the fate of Eastern Rumelia, Varna and Sanjak Sofia. In the end, through the mediation of Bismarck, controversial issues were resolved: the British agreed to the transfer of Varna and the Sofia Sanjak to Bulgaria; the Russians gave way, giving the Sultan the right to keep troops in Eastern Rumelia. The tenure of the Russian troops in Bulgaria was set to 9 months. Russia received the right to organize state power in the Bulgarian principality, but with the participation of the consuls of other powers.
The question of the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary went relatively smoothly. Russia adhered to data commitments for the Budapest Convention 1877 of the year. England and Germany supported Austria. Turkey objected, but her opinion was not taken into account. Italy took this situation very negatively. The Italians were unhappy with the strengthening of the Austrians in the western Balkans and demanded "compensation." But they did not achieve much success.
The new crisis almost raised the question of Russian acquisitions in the Caucasus. The British claimed that under the agreement of May 30, they did not give Russia sanctions for Batum’s annexation, but agreed only to occupy it. In exchange for a concession in this matter, they demanded the right of passage through the straits to the Black Sea for the British fleet. As a result, Batum was given to Russia, declaring it a free port. Russia also received Kars and Ardagan. Bayazet left behind the Turks. The congress also left unchanged the clauses of the San Stefano treaty on Bessarabia, Dobrudja, on the independence of Serbia, Montenegro and Romania. Turkey’s attempt to maintain in some form the dependence of Serbia and Romania (the right to levy tribute) was supported by England, but without success. The regime of straits remained unchanged.
13 July 1878, the congress ended with the signing of the Berlin Treaty, which changed the Treaty of San Stefano. As a result, a principality was formed from Northern Bulgaria, bounded by the Danube in the north and Stara Planina in the south, a “self-governing and paying tribute” to the sultan. The principality received the right to have its own government and people's militia. Interim administration until the introduction of the constitution was supposed to operate under the leadership of the Russian Commissioner. Almost half of the Bulgarian people remained outside this principality. From another part of Bulgaria, located south of the Balkan Mountains, an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire called Eastern Rumelia with a Christian governor-general headed by Porto with the consent of the great powers for five years was created. Sultan retained the right to protect sea and land borders, to build fortifications and keep troops in the area. That is, South Bulgaria remained dependent on Turkey.
The collective West has deprived Russia of a significant part of the fruits of the Russian victory weapons. Russia itself understood this well. Gorchakov wrote to the emperor: "The Berlin treatise is the blackest page in my official career." Alexander II attributed to this letter: "And in mine too." Petersburg succumbed to the pressure of London and Vienna, and failed to protect national interests, to solve the strategic task of seizing Constantinople and the torrential zone. A seizure of Constantinople, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles would provide a southern strategic direction and give Russia a powerful strategic base in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the West, this was also well understood, so they made every effort to frighten St. Petersburg with a new war and force the Russian government to make an "agreement".
The masters of the West (in the person of England and Austria) continued the work of turning the Balkans into a “powder magazine” of Europe. The national interests of the Balkan peoples were grossly violated. The Bulgarian people were deprived of the unity that the San Stefano Agreement provided for them. Slavic Bosnia and Herzegovina passed from Ottoman rule under Austrian. The borders of Serbia have been cut, which will hit the Serbian national pride (later, Slavic secret societies are used to incite a world war). Among the Slavic political elite and intellectuals, the authority of St. Petersburg will be greatly undermined. In addition, Britain and Austria took advantage of the Russian victory and continued their colonial expansion: the British took Cyprus from Turkey, the Austrians - Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Russian-Turkish war and the Berlin congress led to the actual disintegration of the Union of Three Emperors. The intrigues of London and the mistakes of St. Petersburg led to the fact that England managed to break off a potential alliance between Germany and Russia, which is very dangerous for the West. The Hapsburg Empire and Russia, as the 1853 - 1856 and 1877 - 1878 wars showed, were strategic adversaries in the Balkans. Russia had the opportunity to lead the Slavic movement, to support the ambitions of the Series, and this led to the collapse of the "patchwork empire" of the Hapsburgs. Therefore, in Vienna, they were afraid that Russia would occupy a dominant position on the peninsula, which made Austria-Hungary into a second-ranking power. Vienna begins to seek a union against Russia with a powerful Germany. Germany, having received no support from Russia against France (Bismarck wanted to repeat the defeat of the French), began to support the Habsburgs. The military defeat and revolution in Austria-Hungary led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to the expansion of Russia and the emergence of new Slavic states that could fall into the Russian sphere of influence. This did not suit Berlin. Therefore, in Berlin, they preferred to preserve Austria-Hungary, which is hostile to Russia, and gradually strengthen its political, military, and economic orientation toward Germany. This was one of the prerequisites for a future world war.
Among the positive phenomena associated with the Russian victory, we can note the continuation of the national liberation of the Balkan peoples from the Ottoman yoke. Russia's victory in the war with Turkey led to the re-establishment of Bulgarian statehood. Russia has done a lot in the field of creating Bulgarian national statehood. For this, the Civil Administration was created. Court organs were created in the country, a constitution was introduced. Her project was developed in St. Petersburg by a specially created Special Meeting. The Tarnovo Constitution of 1879 was for its time the most democratic in Europe, and endowed the National Assembly with broad rights.
Russia ensured the independence of Bulgaria, creating its armed forces. 28 July 1878 d. A.A. Milyutin wrote that after the Berlin Congress, the entire fate of the Christian population on both sides of the Balkans depends on how long we have time to create a strong national guard during the nine months of the occupation of the region. It is only under this condition that one can hope that, despite the ugliness of the child maimed in Berlin, he can survive and grow stronger with time. With the help of Russia, a well-equipped and trained army was formed in Bulgaria, which included infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineering units. In the army (the Zemsky army) there were 21 thousand Bulgarians and more than 3 thousand Russian. Its core was the Bulgarian militia, which took an active part in the liberation of the country. Russia armed and equipped the army of Bulgaria, prepared national military personnel.
To protect South Bulgaria (Eastern Rumelia) from the Turkish invasion there they created a people's militia, where officers of Bulgarian origin were sent from the Danube army and military districts of Russia. Rural guards were also formed and weapons depots were created to arm the people if necessary. When militia brigades, weapons depots and Russian units organized training of volunteers recruits (in the system of rural guards and recruits trained up to 28 thousand. People) In addition, massively created shooting gymnastics society (they numbered more than 64 thousand. People). Thus, the Russian army helped protect Bulgaria from Turkish intrigues and defend independence after the withdrawal of the Russian army. In 1885, the reunification of both parts of Bulgaria into a single state took place.
So the move stories led to the fact that the Russian soldier with his blood freed the Bulgarians and other oppressed peoples of the Balkan Peninsula from the long rule of the Ottoman Empire. The Russians also freed a part of the Armenian people from the Ottoman yoke and thus saved thousands of Armenians from mass physical extermination by the Turks.