How Did the Russian Revolution Impact World War I?

Updated: January 26, 2023
The Russian Revolution of 1917 impacted World War I in a number of ways. The most immediate effect was the withdrawal of Russia from the war, which freed up German troops to be used elsewhere. In the long term, the Bolshevik Revolution led to the rise of the Soviet Union, which would become a major player on the world stage for the rest of the 20th century.
Detailed answer:

The Russian Empire entered World War I in 1914 on the side of France and Britain against Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, discontent among workers and peasants had been growing for years before this conflict erupted. In particular, many people were unhappy about their lack of political rights and economic opportunities under tsarist rule.

In March 1917, a revolution broke out in Petrograd, Russia’s capital city at that time. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated but was replaced by a provisional government led by Alexander Kerensky that promised to end Russia’s involvement in World War I. However, these hopes were dashed when Lenin returned from exile in April 1917 and led his Bolsheviks (or Communists) into an alliance with other socialist groups called the Petrograd Soviet.

Overcoming internal divisions between moderates and radicals within his own party, Lenin managed to seize control of both.

Russia withdrew from World War I in March 1918 after signing an armistice with Germany that ended hostilities between the two nations. The Bolsheviks’ withdrawal from World War I effectively ended Russia’s involvement in combat operations on all fronts against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. This resulted in an increase in German troops on other fronts as well as an increase in German supplies to these fronts (because fewer trains were needed to transport soldiers).

The Bolshevik revolution also resulted in civil war within Russia itself, which lasted until 1922 when forces loyal to Lenin finally prevailed over those loyal to Kerensky’s Provisional Government (which had been established after Nicholas II abdicated).

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