Russia in 1914 besides the Balkan crisis and entanglement, was wracked by the beginnings of the Russian Revolution. It was in this light, and especially that of political turmoil which had truly begun with the assassination of their prime minister Pytor Solypin in 1911, that found Russia reeling. Having previously conceded various civil rights and the creation of a parliament to the populous in 1905 due to the political turmoil of the time, Tsar Nicholas II of the Romanov dynasty was just as ineffective and in over his head with those of 1914. Riots and strikes had broken out in St. Petersburg by workers demanding better conditions for themselves. These would soon be followed by the unrest of striking oil workers, also in St. Petersburg, that would harshly be put down by government forces and last nearly a week. These escalating anti-tsarist sentiments continued to spread as sentiments of nationalism took hold with many feeling that a substantial political change was coming, one way or another.
These political realities in Russia only compounded its military situation as it was woefully unprepared for the coming war. Though having grown its population and industrial production over the previous ten years, Russia was still smarting from its embarrassing defeat at the hands of Japan from the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Having achieved little in military reforms before 1914, the Russian military was ill equipped utilizing mostly outdated weaponry and perhaps more importantly, was littered with incompetent leadership at nearly every level. This ineptitude and partially reformed military, in conjunction with its political and societal turmoil, left the Russian bear with generally more bark than bite once open hostilities broke out.
Strachan, Hew. The First World War. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2005.
Rogger, H. “Russia in 1914.” Journal of Contemporary History 1, no. 4 (1966): 95-119.
Willmott, H. P. First World War. New York, NY: DK Publishing, 2003.