Russia, Friday, 31st July
Early morning Notices on red paper announcing the mobilisation call-up appear throughout St Petersburg.
Early morning Pourtalès protests to Sazonov. Vienna has agreed to resume direct talks. Germany had been assured Russia would take no military steps. Sazonov tries to explain that the measures are entirely precautionary and that Russia is not making any irrevocable moves. Pourtalès asks to see the Tsar.
10.20 A.M. Pourtalès sends an urgent message to Berlin reporting that Russia has begun general mobilisation.
10.43 A.M. Paléologue telegrams Paris saying "An order has been issued for the general mobilisation of the Russian army". He had known of the decision to mobilise the previous evening. For security reasons the message goes via Sweden and doesn’t get to Paris until 8.30 P.M.
Morning Sazonov amends the latest peace proposals from Grey and circulates his new version to the other Great Powers.
If Austria-Hungary agrees to stop its invasion of Serbia, recognises the European nature of the crisis, and agrees the other Powers shall enquire how Serbia can satisfy Austria-Hungary's demands, "Russia engages to maintain her waiting attitude". He suggests to Buchanan the discussions take place in London.
Morning Szápáry telegrams Vienna saying there is no point in holding discussions with Sazonov.
Afternoon Szápáry changes his mind and goes to see Sazonov. He explains his instructions predate Russian mobilisation. Sazonov again says that as the Russian army will not attack "mobilisation has no significance".
Szápáry says that Vienna welcomes talks and is even ready to discuss the text of the ultimatum as far as interpretation is concerned. Sazonov suggest talks in London during which Austria-Hungary should stop military operations "on Serbian territory". These diplomatic ideas are being over taken by military events. [More]
Afternoon Pourtalès sees the Tsar. Russian mobilisation will have a terrible impact in Berlin and will end the mediation efforts.
Pourtalès says ".... the only thing which in my opinion might yet prevent war was a withdrawal of the mobilisation order".
The Tsar says on technical grounds a recall of the order issued is no longer possible.
The Tsar shows Pourtalès a wire he is about to send the Kaiser saying Russian troops will not make any hostile moves. [N4]
Midnight Pourtalès calls on Sazonov to deliver the German ultimatum.
Unless within twelve hours Russia begins to demobilise against Germany and Austria-Hungary, the German government will be compelled to give the order to mobilise.
Sazonov says this is a "technical impossibility" and Germany is "overestimating the significance of a Russian mobilisation". He asks Pourtalès if German mobilisation is equivalent to war and Pourtalès replies ".... we should find ourselves on the brink of war".
Sazonov gives the Tsar's assurance on his "word of honour" that the Russian army will not move, though it will continue to mobilise. This assurance is worthless to Germany. [More]