Romanovs And RevolutionsThe Great Games: Russian Foreign PolicyIn 1890, the new Kaiser of Germany, William II sank the career of Bismarck by sacking him. Bismarck would predict later on that the next war in Europe would start over the Balkans. He was very much right. This meant Germany became increasingly assertive and teamed up with Austria-Hungary. With the Ottoman Empire in trouble, Austria-Hungary could increase its influence in the Balkans. This concerned Russia for two reasons. One, the area was populated by Slavs, the ethnic group that Russians belong to who traditionally looked up to the Tsar as their protector. Two, the Dardanelles was a vital link from the Black Sea to the Med. Russia was also involved in a contest of influence with Britain in Central Asia; the "Great Game", as Rudyard Kiplingcalled it. This would be resolved as Germany grew more powerful and certain events occured in 1904-5. Russia wanted to expand into the Far East to compensate for its declining European influence. It also need a Pacific port that was ice-free all year round — Vladvostok was summer-only.
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