Russia’s involvement in the First World War was the tipping point for the February Revolution. It was believed that joining the Great War would cause an uprising of popular and patriotic support for Russia and the Tsar. For a brief moment, this goal was accomplished. However, support for the war and the government quickly dissipated leading to the February Revolution.
Russia’s military involvement in WWI was lackluster. Ineffective leadership led to disastrous blunders for the Russian military. Casualties were high, and to stop the German advances, Russian units resorted to a policy of scorched earth. Scorched earth tactics forced thousands of Russian peasants off their land, and caused a massive refugee crisis in Russia. On top of a refugee problem, supplies were running low for Russian military units and at home. The inability for Russian leadership to produce supplies reflected “the decline in its moral authority or sheer capacity to coerce” (Freeze 272). The Tsar’s problems continued to worsen. On March 3, 1917 Nicholas II abdicated his authority and designated his brother as the heir to the throne.
The lead up to the transition of power in Russia was dominated by the struggles of war, both on the home front and the battlefront.
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