Before the outbreak of World War I, international tension escalated and distrust between European powers, which were divided into two antagonist formations, increased. Great Britain, France and Russia formed the Entente Powers, while Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Central Powers. The Ottoman Empire stayed somewhat isolated; both powers waged a secret persistent war over the empire, which Turkey skilfully turned into its advantage. The tsarist Russia observed Turkey's advance with traditional distrust, because it did not give up its strategic scheme of extending its control over Germany in the Baltic nations, over Austria-Hungary on the west border, control of the Balkans and, subsequently, over Bosporus and Dardanelles, which would secure a free passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East and Persia. A firm position in the west was to facilitate further expansion of Russia into Asia Minor as far as the British India and in Far East into China and Japan. The mutual distrust escalated in 1914 and some of the ruling circles in Vienna and St. Petersburg regarded war in Europe as the only way out of the growing crisis of international relationship and internal problems of both conservative royalistic powers. Their problems were caused by expansion of national, liberal democratic and revolutionary movements. Austria-Hungary and Russia both made efforts to prevent formation of a hostile bloc in the Balkans and a potential deceit by their current allies. By waging a war, they intended to put the other members of the Entete and Central Powers before an accomplished fact and subsequently prevent revolutionary changes in Europe.
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