Why Did Russia Leave The War? The Turning Point

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The First World War was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, with millions of lives lost and countless others forever changed. 

Russia’s decision to withdraw from the conflict in 1917 was one of the war’s most significant events. This decision had far-reaching consequences, not only for Russia but for the entire world. 

And understanding why Russia left the war is crucial to understanding the events that followed and their impact on our global history. 

This article will explore these factors in more detail and examine the consequences of Russia’s withdrawal from the First World War. But before that, let’s first start with a quick answer to the question, 

Why did Russia leave the war?

The main reason why Russia left the war was because of the revolution that was taking place back home. The revolution started on February 1917 on the Julian calendar in Petrograd, the capital city of Imperial Russia. 

The angry protestors took it to the streets because of a ‘lack of bread’ due to rationing & economic hardship and were soon joined by striking workers. Soldiers had to be pulled from war to come and suppress the movement, which meant they could no longer take part in the war. 

The Start Of War

World War I started on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. 

This conflict, which initially appeared to be a minor one, quickly escalated, and soon other countries like Germany, Russia, Britain, and France were also embroiled in the conflict. 

Consequently, the Western and Eastern fronts opened along the borders of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Let’s analyze the chronological sequence to understand the events that led to the conflict. 

The primary catalyst that triggered the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. This shocking incident began a series of decisive actions leading to war. 

Austria’s aggressive stance was further strengthened on July 5 when they received Germany’s “blank check,” which provided unconditional support if Russia entered the conflict. 

This pledge bolstered Austria’s determination and fortified its resolve, further escalating the situation.

On July 23, Austria presented Serbia with a set of ultimatums; however, Serbia’s response on July 25 was unsatisfactory to Austria. As a result, the Austrian ambassador left Belgrade immediately.

After realizing the situation’s serious implications, France pledged support to Russia in case of any potential conflict. Subsequently, on July 28, 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia, escalating the tension at an international level. 

This declaration set off a sequence of military mobilizations and declarations, ultimately leading to one of the most devastating wars in history. 

Amidst rising tensions in Europe, Russia ordered a general mobilization of its troops on July 30. This decision was met with a swift response from Germany, which declared war on Russia on August 1

The situation escalated quickly as France ordered a general mobilization on the same day. The following day, on August 3, Germany declared war on France. The situation worsened as Great Britain joined the fray on August 4, declaring war on Germany.

The Western And Eastern Fronts

During the early stages of World War I, the opposing forces engaged in daring offensives and swift troop movements on multiple fronts. 

The western front saw Germany’s initial assault on Belgium and, later on, France, while in the east, Russia launched attacks against both Germany and Austria-Hungary. 

Meanwhile, in the south, Austria-Hungary made a move on Serbia. However, the Battle of the Marne, which occurred from September 5-9, 1914, altered the course of events. 

The Western Front got entrenched in central France after this battle and remained that way for the entire war. 

The Ottoman Empire Joins The War

Late in 1914, Germany’s deceitful act of tricking Russia into believing that Turkey had attacked it brought the Ottoman Empire to join the war. 

As a result, much of 1915 was dominated by Allied actions against the Ottomans in the Mediterranean. 

Britain and France launched an unsuccessful attack on the Dardanelles, which led to a British invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula. 

Additionally, Britain launched a separate campaign against the Turks in Mesopotamia, where they had some victories. 

However, despite some successes in Mesopotamia, the Gallipoli campaign and attacks on the Dardanelles led to defeats for the British forces.

Trench Warfare

The middle part of the war, from 1916 to 1917, was defined by brutal Trench Warfare on both the eastern and western fronts. 

The soldiers fought from dug-in positions, using heavy artillery, machine guns, and chemical weapons to strike at each other. The conditions in these trenches were harsh, and millions of soldiers lost their lives. 

Despite the immense loss of human life, neither side could secure any substantive success or gain any significant advantage over the other. The Trench Warfare became a symbol of the stalemate that defined the Great War.

The United States Enters The War

Amid the stalemate on the European fronts, two significant events unfolded in 1917, altering the course of World War I. 

In early April, the United States, deeply angered by attacks on its ships in the Atlantic, made a momentous decision and declared war on Germany. 

Then, in November, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia led to the withdrawal of Russian forces from the war. Here is how the events unfolded, leading to the USA joining the war.

On February 1, 1917, Germany implemented unrestricted submarine warfare targeting any ships in the war zone without warning. 

As a result, a German U-boat sank the U.S. cargo ship Housatonic on February 3. The United States was outraged by these actions and immediately broke diplomatic relations with Germany. 

However, the situation escalated further when the United States intercepted a message on February 24, known as the Zimmermann telegram. 

This message revealed Germany’s proposal to Mexico, urging them to join the war against the United States.

In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appealed to Congress for a declaration of war, citing the need to safeguard American interests and promote peace and democracy worldwide. 

As a result, on April 6, the United States officially declared war on Germany. The following month saw the first U.S. convoy sail to Europe, protecting shipping routes and ensuring the supply of essential goods to the war-torn continents.

Russia Exits The War

In 1917, Russia, a key player on the Eastern Front, began to withdraw from the conflict. This was due to a series of events that led to the disintegration of the Russian Empire and the emergence of the Bolsheviks. 

It all started on March 8, 1917, in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), when protests erupted, marking the beginning of the February Revolution. 

People were frustrated with food shortages, high prices, and the war effort, culminating in mass demonstrations calling for change. 

The situation worsened when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne on March 15, as he had lost the support of the people and the military. 

This created a power vacuum that revolutionary forces would soon fill. Amidst this chaos, Vladimir Lenin, a revolutionary leader, arrived in Petrograd from Germany on April 16. 

Despite living in exile, Lenin returned to Russia with the support of Germany and was ready to take advantage of the moment.

In July, the Russian military launched a fresh offensive on the eastern front to reclaim lost land. Unfortunately, the offensive was unsuccessful, leading to a resurgence of antiwar sentiments. 

Petrograd, the capital city, witnessed riots due to this upswing in opposition to the war. The Bolshevik Revolution occurred on November 6-7. 

Lenin and his followers were at the forefront of this revolution, which removed the Provisional Government that had taken power after the February Revolution. 

This marked a significant turning point in power distribution and set the stage for further transformation.

After the revolution, Lenin expressed his hope for peace on November 8, despite occasional armed conflicts. 

He was aware of the devastating impact of the war on the nation and aimed to end the loss of lives. 

Their primary objective was to unite their authority and concentrate on constructing a new socialist state while putting the battlefield in the past.

Finally, on December 15, a Russian cease-fire was declared, solidifying the country’s withdrawal from the conflict.


Why did Russia leave the war? The decision of Russia to leave the war was a combination of several factors. Russia faced several internal issues, including economic instability, political unrest, and social upheaval. 

The outbreak of war only worsened the situation and put immense pressure on the already weakened Russian state.  

The Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and the subsequent rise of the communist government further contributed to Russia’s decision to withdraw from World War I.

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Susan Tapia is an ambitious, savvy news writer with a vibrant personality and an eye for detail. She is highly experienced in crafting compelling stories and dedicated to seeking out the truth. With her inquisitive nature, she delves deep into every subject she touches, uncovering unexpected facts that help her engage her readers. Susan has an unbridled passion for writing, and she strives to inspire others through her work. She confidently shares her thought-provoking ideas with enthusiasm and candor, making sure the world can see the truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Simply put, Susan Tapia is a trailblazer in the journalism industry who never fails to deliver her readers riveting stories they won't soon forget.

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