Eastern Front December 1916–March 1917


Map Code: Ax00241

In the summer of 1916, the Brusilov Offensive was to prove Russia’s greatest triumph of the war, and had momentous consequences. The Austro-Hungarian army suffered huge losses and was, effectively, a spent force, and its success persuaded an opportunistic Romania to enter the war on the Allied side, forcing Germany to divert forces eastwards at the height of the Somme offensive. By December 1916 the Germans, supported by Bulgarian and Ottoman troops, had occupied southern Romania and were threatening Bucharest. Cumulatively, the depredations of the war were having a devastating domestic impact in Russia. By March 1917, they had suffered 6 million casualties: even the successful Brusilov offensive was punitive in terms of losses. By assuming command of the armed forces, the tsar had made himself accountable for a hugely unpopular war and left a political vacuum in the capital. In February, revolution forced his abdication.

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