Reinsurance Treaty of 1887

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Reinsurance Treaty of 1887


the unofficial name of a secret agreement between Russia and Germany, signed in Berlin on June 6 (18) by H. von Bismarck, secretary of state of the German Foreign Office, and the Russian ambassador P. A. Shuvalov and ratified the same month by both powers.

The intensification of Austro-Russian antagonisms in the Balkans from 1885 to 1887 made the prolongation of the Three Emperors’ League impossible, a development that freed Russia of any obligations in the event of a Franco-German conflict. Therefore, the German chancellor O. von Bismarck, relying on his alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy directed against Russia and France, decided to “reinsure” himself by an agreement with Russia to prevent its rapprochement with France. For Russia the Reinsurance Treaty was important, because its relations with Great Britain had deteriorated over Middle Asia and the Near East.

The negotiations were conducted in Berlin in two stages in January and May 1887. According to the treaty, each party undertook to maintain a benevolent neutrality in the event of a war between the other party and a third Great Power, except in the event of an attack by Germany on France or by Russia on Austria-Hungary (art. 1). Germany pledged to recognize the rights “historically acquired by Russia in the Balkan Peninsula, especially the legitimacy of its preponderant and decisive influence in Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.” Both powers pledged not to allow any territorial changes in the Balkan Peninsula without prior consultation with each other (art. 2). Both parties recognized the obligatory nature of the principle of closing the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to warships of all nations (art. 3). In the event that Turkey renounced the principle to the detriment of Russia, Article 3 obligated Germany, jointly with Russia, to declare to Turkey that in their view it had forfeited “the benefits of territorial inviolability guaranteed to it by the Berlin Treaty.” In a protocol appended to the Reinsurance Treaty, Germany promised diplomatic support to Russia if it found itself compelled “to undertake the defense of the entrance to the Black Sea.”

The treaty expired in 1890. The new German government of Chancellor L. von Caprivi, afraid that the treaty would complicate the prospects for a rapprochement between Germany and Great Britain and a strengthening of the alliance with Austria-Hungary, refused to renew the treaty.


Sb. dogowrov Rossii s drugimi gosudarstvami, 1856–1917. Moscow, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.