Is WWI an important factor leading to the Russian Revolution?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

World War I was absolutely an important factor leading to the Russian Revolution of 1917.  We can even argue WWI is the most important immediate cause of the revolution, but that does not mean the war caused the revolution.  Instead, the war acted as a catalyst to speed up the move towards revolution.

The Russian Revolution was really caused by the backwardness of the Russian economy and the unresponsive nature of its political system.  Economically, Russia was the least modern major country in Europe.  Its peasants were very poor and not very productive.  Its factory workers had low pay and bad working conditions.  Politically, Russia was also weak.  The Tsar ruled very much as an autocrat.  There was a legislature, the Duma, but it was weak and the Tsar dissolved it frequently.  Therefore, the people, many of whom were unhappy for economic reasons, had no way to persuade the government to do anything about their problems.  These were the root causes of the revolution.

Nonetheless, it was WWI that caused the revolution to happen right when it did.  Russian civilians suffered during the war, as most of what the economy produced went to the soldiers.  This led to shortages among the civilians, which resulted in bread riots.  During the war, the Tsar’s administration also did not perform well.  The Russian army was not very effective and did not seem to care much about the terrible number of men that it was losing in battle.  For these reasons, the Russian people became even angrier than usual.  Their anger over the war pushed them over the edge into rebellion.

WWI, then, is an important factor leading to the Russian Revolution.  It was not the root cause of the revolution, but it was the main factor that caused the revolution to begin when it did.