France, Thursday, 30th July
2.00 A.M. Izvolsky has a message from Sazonov sent before the Tsar changed general back to partial mobilisation.
It explains Germany has warned it will mobilise if Russia does not stop her military preparations. "As we cannot meet the German wish, all we can do is to speed up our armaments and reckon with the probable inevitability of war".
Sazonov thanks the French for the "declaration which the French ambassador made in his government's name that Russia may count in full measure on the support of France under the alliance".
"Speed up our armaments" is Sazonov's way of saying Russia is ordering general mobilisation. It is not clear all the French understand this thinking it means preparatory measures such as the French themselves are taking.
2.00 A.M. Izvolsky realises the importance of this message and immediately has its contents communicated to Viviani and Messimy.
Very early morning Viviani and Messimy wake Poincaré and discuss this important news with him.
Viviani thinks Sazonov is giving a very wide meaning to any assurances that Paléologue may have given him.
7.00 A.M. As a result Viviani wires Paléologue saying "France is resolved to fulfil all the obligations of her alliance,"
"but .... in the interest of the general peace .... in taking any precautionary measures of defence Russia should not immediately take any step which may offer Germany a pretext for a total or partial mobilisation of her forces". [More]
Before 9.30 A.M. After Ignatiev, the Russian Military Attaché, asks Messimy how to translate into military terms Viviani's recommendation to Sazonov, Izvolsky wires Sazonov saying "the French Government has no intention of interfering in our military preparations but thinks it extremely desirable, in view of the further pursuance of negotiations for the preservation of peace, that these preparations should be of as little overt and provocative a character as possible". [More]
9.30 A.M. French cabinet meets. Their main concern with Russia is not to stop Russian military preparations but to ensure Germany cannot blame Russia for provoking war.
They agree covering troops take up positions but on condition no train transport is used or reservists called up and most importantly, troops are to approach no closer than ten kilometres to the frontier to avoid contact between German and French patrols.
It is important for the sake of public opinion in France and the support of Britain that Germany is seen as the first country to take military action. [More]
Morning Telegram to Paul Cambon explains cabinet's decision to leave part of French territory undefended. "In doing so we have no other reason than to prove to British public opinion and the British government that France, like Russia, will not fire the first shot".