The Russo-German Reinsurance Treaty (1887)




The Reinsurance Treaty, signed in 1887, was Bismarck’s attempt to maintain a Russo-German alliance. When Russia sought to renew the treaty in 1890, Kaiser Wilhelm II declined:



The Imperial Courts of Germany and of Russia, animated by an equal desire to strengthen the general peace by an understanding destined to assure the defensive position of their respective States, have resolved to confirm the agreement… signed in 1881 and renewed in 1884 by the three courts of Germany Russia, and Austria-Hungary…

Article One. In case one of the Contracting Parties should find itself at war with a third Great Power, the other would maintain a benevolent neutrality towards it, and would devote its efforts to the localisation of the conflict. This provision would not apply to a war against Austria or France in case this war should result from an attack directed against one of these two latter Powers by one of the High Contracting Parties.

Article Two. Germany recognizes the rights historically acquired by Russia in the Balkan Peninsula, and particularly the legitimacy of her preponderant and decisive influence in Bulgaria and in Eastern Rumelia. The two Courts engage to admit no modification of the territorial status quo of the said peninsula without a previous agreement between them and to oppose, as occasion arises, every attempt to disturb this status quo or to modify it without their consent.

Article Three. The two Courts recognise the European and mutually obligatory character of the principle of the closing of the Straits of the Bosporus and of the Dardanelles, founded on international law… They will take care in common that Turkey shall make no exception to this rule in favour of the interests of any Government whatsoever, by lending to warlike operations of a belligerent power the portion of its Empire constituted by the Straits.

Article Four. The present Treaty shall remain in force for the space of three years, dating from the day of the exchange of ratifications.

Article Five. The High Contracting Parties mutually promise secrecy as to the contents and the existence of the present Treaty and of the Protocol annexed thereto…

Done at Berlin, the eighteenth day of the month of June, 1887.

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