In February 1917, Russia faced large-scale labour strikes and mass desertions from its army. The workers were protesting massive food shortages, and the poorly equipped and starving Russian troops supported the strikes. The widespread discontent led to the formation of a provisional government, and, on 15 March 1917, Czar Nicholas II abdicated.

Alexander Kerensky, a democratic socialist, emerged as the leader of the provisional government. Kerensky supported Russia's continued involvement in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, but the majority of the Russian people were desperate for peace.

The German government agreed to transport Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks (communists), into Russia from Switzerland, where he was living in exile. Soon after arriving in Russia, Lenin led the revolution that toppled the provisional government. Within five months, the Bolshevik regime had negotiated a separate peace with Germany. Over 1.5 million German troops who had been serving on the Eastern Front were available for operations against the Allies on the Western Front.


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