Germany dwarfed A-H + Italy in military strength.
Dual Alliance establish 1879.
Purpose: Ensure Russia couldn't capitalise in the event of an AH collapse. It's continued renewal became the cornerstone of Germany foreign policy.
Initally it was mutually defensive vs Russian threat.
However in 1908, Germany and AH collaborated to inflict a humiliating diplomatic defeat upon Germany in the Bosnian Crisis.
From this point onwards, the alliance became more offensive. They made joint war plans, involving G. attacking France and AH attacking Russian Poland.
Bismarck's successors did not renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russian in 1890.
WHY? They did not believe Germany's security depended upon balancing Russia and A-H.
France saw this as an opportunity and began to make relations with Russia.
In 1894 they agreed to a defensive alliance vs Germany.
This was not a natural alliance - France = democracy. Russia = monarchy.
This left Germany open to the possibility of Zweifrontenkrieg.
Britain's move towards the alliances
19th Century: SPLENDID ISOLATION
Why? Wanted to retain freedom of manoveure.
1906 onwards: Military conversations took place between France and Britain. Came to an understanding Britain would support France if they faced attack from Germany.
1912: Anglo-French Naval Agreement. Britain would defend France's north coast if under attack from Germany.
1904: Double Entene
1907: Triple Entente
Stability of the Alliances
1) Supporter's of Britain's liberal Govt. did not support the alliance with Russia and wished to see Anglo-German Rapproachment.
2) Close dynastic ties between Germany and Russia. In 1905 in Finland at a secret meeting, Wilhelm persuaded his cousin to agree to an alliance. Nicholas was forced to retreat by his ministers.
3) Germany and AH were under no illusions of the strength of Italy and it's reliability.