Italian Mediterranean Policy and Russia Between “Risorgimento” and the “Great War”
The Mediterranean has been an area of great importance for Italian and Russian foreign policies. The great Tsarist empire,
although being landlocked, has always shown great interest for the Mediterranean Sea. In particular the Tsarist policy has been directed
toward the strategic Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles, whose eventual conquest would have allowed the introduction into the
Mediterranean routes. This policy was due to the lack of ports on "warm seas”. The only ports consisted of Archangel, Odessa, St.
Petersburg and Riga, some of which are frozen for much of the year and at all ports rarely used. The Crimean War – in which took part
also the Kingdom of Sardinia - was the first post-Napoleonic international conflict that opposed Europe to the “Mediterranean
objectives” of Russia. After the defeat, the Tsarist foreign policy aspirations temporarily abandoned the Mediterranean Sea, while the
nascent Italy (1861) began to organize a first plan of maritime hegemony. The policies of the two powers collided in 1912 when Italy, in
war with the Ottoman Empire, in two occasions forced the Dardanelles. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Dmitrievich Sazonov
protested strongly because Russia would not admit a new power in the Straits’s management. The moment of crisis, however, did not erase
the good relationships between the two peoples that had been consolidated into a tragic circumstance: the “Strait earthquake” of 1908 in
which the city of Messina was promptly rescued by Russian sailors in practice - permitted by the government of Rome - in Italian waters.
The synergy between Italy and Russia turned into an alliance in April 26, 1915 when Italy signed in London an alliance with the
Triple Entente composed by Great Britain, France and Russia to fight in a war that was starting to destroy the European continent.
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