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The French in St. Petersburg

Christopher Clark unpicks the complex sequence of events during the July Crisis. Today he explores the dangerous impact of the extension of the Franco-Russian alliance in 1914.

Professor Christopher Clark unpicks the complex sequence of events during the July Crisis of 1914, leading to outbreak of the First World War, from the perspective of the key centres of decision-making.

In this programme, Professor Clark travels to Paris. He discusses why Raymond Poincare, the French President, and the Russians under Tsar Nicholas II, extended the remit of their alliance, to cover the eventuality of a 'war of choice' in which Russia would attack Austria-Hungary on behalf of a Balkan client state.

St Petersburg and Paris thus created a geopolitical tripwire that made a general war highly likely if a quarrel were to break out between Austria and its turbulent neighbour - an extremely dangerous thing to do in Europe in 1914.

Producer: Melissa FitzGerald
A Blakeway production for BBC Radio 4

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15 minutes

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