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1861 - 1917
        (1861-1917)  This period saw the development of modern  infrastructure, mainly in urban European Russia, of  roads/piping/government buildings, and railroads, all financed almost entirely by either France, Germany, England, or the U.S.A., or some  grouping of these depending on the alliances in place at the time.   (*KEY*) The monarchy was ALWAYS weak financially during this  period, as a result of the self-financed Moscow-St. Petersberg  Railway during the 1840’s and then, the Crimean War. (*KEY*)  Russia in this time became the world’s first great deficit spender.    Foreign lenders were drawn by collateralizing Russia’s rich natural  resources and, for a period herein, an adherence to  a gold  standard---but there was never any real accountability regarding how  money was spent and no firm government planning.  Militarily, the  focus was first on Turkey (warm water ports, stable textile  production) but when the western powers jointly annulled that  success, the emphasis was on central Asia and the brand-new Far  East.  The need for capital, plus the weakening of its navy post-  Crimean War combined with England’s presence in Canada and the  rapid development of the Far East, made it feasible to sell Alaska to  its ally, the U.S.A.   When Russia tried to expand its railroad-  facilitated influence in the Far East near to the Korean Peninsula and  onto the Yellow Sea, the Japanese (with some counselling from the  British, which didn’t like the prospect of Asian product going to  Europe via the new Russian railroad system instead of their fleet)  attacked in 1904 and Russia was soundly defeated.   Already, by this  time populism and socialist revolutionary forces had already been  extant for about 35 years, and this little Russo-Japanese War was  the catalyst that set Russia on a path towards constitutional  monarchy to pacify the overall populous.  Also in 1905, another 45-  year-old problem came to a crisis point: the freedom-of-the-serfs  land deal, having originated as follows in 1861:  1.  Serfs freed.  2.   The Tsar bought land (another huge financial burden added to those  above) from various private owners (on which only some of the serfs  had been living) and   3. The Tsar sold it to the serfs, figuratively, on  a 100% credit basis.  The serfs didn’t get the best lands, of course.    The serfs had been paying back, continuously, with no end in sight,  as terms and conditions changed.   The Tsar dealt with this in 2 main  ways in 1905, aided by most likely Russia’s most brilliant civil  servant ever, Stolypin:  1. Allowing the consolidation/privatization of  farms under the ownership and management of serf-descendant  talent, with favorable debt restructuring.   2.  Shipping off many  farmers off to Siberia on the newly-completed Trans-Siberian  
Railway with offers of free land and subsidies.   At this time, the Tsar also  grudgingly accepted a constitution.  No one was happy because (*KEY*) the word  compromise doesn’t function in Russia, so a general major weakening of societal  infrastructures commenced, as bureaucracies, etc., attacked each other while trying  to maintain their status under modified rules.  Two other financial drains are worth  mentioning:   1.  The  payment of a large bribe to the Chinese to help settle the  Sino-Japanese conflict of 1895.  A condition of this was that Russia could build/own  a direct rail route across northern China,  between  Chita and Vladivostok.   2.  4  years earlier, at the beginning time-wise of Trans-Siberian construction, Russia self- financed a railroad link between Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.   As might have been  expected, by the eve of ww-1 Russia was the number 1 agricultural force in the  world but the constant weakening of society brought on by conflict between the  various factions considerably offset this new stature in importance.  Let’s not forget  about debt service obligations as the number of bonds just kept on growing.  World  War I accelerated this overall weakening process and this multi-dysfunctional  monarchy collapsed (the 4th constitution was thrown out in 1911) in its sea of debt in 1917.