Although World War I was triggered by Austrian and Russian conflict over Serbia, prior to this there were tensions generated by the imperialist agendas of the different European powers. By 1914, the Ottoman Empire was in decline and Russia had lost a war with Japan over disputed territories in Manchuria, Chinese Northeast Asia. A newly unified Germany had an increasingly expansionist agenda after securing possessions in the ‘scramble for Africa’ at the end of the 19th century and leasing Jiaozhou Bay from the Qing dynasty in 1898. Germany was rapidly becoming a superpower, with expanding trading markets and, worryingly for its fellow imperial powers, a growing military and industrial base. It was increasingly hostile to its European neighbours, supporting the Moroccan sultanate in its resistance to French influence (1905). The French, British and Russians formed an dentente shortly after this, which came into effect after Germany supported the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia in July 1914.
— OR —