Russia, with the reforms of Alexander II, had proceeded in its march to emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and another in 1863 had suppressed the Polish uprising. In 1871, once collapsed in France's Second Empire, was able to return into the big international game while remaining extremely backward compared to the other European powers. The lesson of the Crimea was useful. The emancipation of the serfs, in fact, was essential to begin a process of industrialization. Even if difficult, as were showing the situation in northern United States and Prussia, without an industrial potential, a policy of war or expansion was unthinkable.
The Eastern question came out in the 70s of the XIX century in the Balkan and rekindled the appetites of large and small powers. Everything was gradually complicated. From Austro-Hungarian Croatia, to Greece, busy to free its territories still remained under Ottoman suzerainty, the tensions multiplied. The uprising against the Turks in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ultimately the origin of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78. The British, as was the case for Greek independence, solemnly proclaimed closer to the oppressed Christians of the Balkans, only to retreat when they realized that the turkish retreat favored the Russian advance. With the peace of Saint Steven, in 1878, Russia seemed almost able to expel the Turks from Europe. Austria and England itself, however, took it upon themselves to reduce the scope of the Tsarist victory: Bismarck, at the Congress of Berlin, offered himself as a mediator and gave another forty years of existence to the Ottoman Empire. Now Serbia, Montenegro and Romania were in all respects independent from the Sublime Porte. It was also constituted Bulgaria. To Austria, finally, was assigned the administration of Bosnia.
No one, apparently, was satisfied. It is understood, above all, that the succession of the Ottoman Empire not only belonged to Russia and Austria, but also to the turbulent Balkan cauldron of nationalities, moved by mutual distrust and operated from different power, a fact demonstrated by the presence of foreign dynasties in most of the new states. The uprising in Balkan, was so garbled by interference from the Austro-Russian conflict, the Anglo-German economic rivalry, the French revanchism and even the ambitions of the kingdom of Italy. The great powers sharpened the tension in the Balkans and the interbalkanic fights (for example, between the Serbs and the Great Bulgaria) sharpened the tension between the powers. Things came worst in 1908, when Austria decided the annexation of Bosnia, arousing resentment in Serbia and Montenegro, definitely deteriorating relations with Russia and also cracking the links in the Triple Alliance between Italy and the Austro-German. The Ottoman Empire, despite the attempt of modernization carried out by the Young Turks revolution, made the charges immediately. Followed one another, in fact, between 1912 and 1913, two Balkan wars. It was constituted Albania and Turkey saw disappear almost all its European possessions, but the warring Balkan tore each other to divide up the spoils of turkish empire in Europe. Serbia, in particular, larger and larger to the south, cultivated the ambition of becoming the Piedmont of the Balkans. It moved against Bulgaria, but favored the Greeks and Romanians. It then also aggravated the conflict with Austria on the unredeemed lands and settled by the Slavs in the south. This was not countered selflessly powered by Russian diplomacy. The first world war was really at the door.