The Condition of Russia in 1914 (Public Opinion)
The declaration of war saw a surge of nationalism and support for the Tsar. Strikers went back to St Petersburg and the Duma, which was under the leadership of Rodzianko (Octobrist) and Miliukov (Kadet), urged people to support the Tsar. Zemstvo representatives of Moscow declared that the barriers "which have divided our citizens" are gone now.
However, people questioned the Tsar's actions. Witte wrote that "war cannot be popular among the broad masses of people who are more receptive to the ideas of revolution than of our victory over Germany".
The Condition of Russia in 1914 (Economic)
Russia was definitely not ready for war in 1914 economically. Russia invested their agriculture-based economy into a poorly trained army when compared to other countries. The supply that was needed by the front lines was underestimated, given that 290 million bullets were produced each year, but 200 million bullets were needed each month by 1916.
Troops were conscripted across all of Russia. Skilled workers were pulled into the war over the nobility and the peasantry, meaning that industrialisation was still slow. War also hindered goods movement through the Baltic and Black seas, while other ways of getting trade were slow, far-away or frozen over for half a year. Germany was well aware of these problems because German companies, such as Krupps, were investing in Russian arms before the war.
The Condition of Russia in 1914 (War Plans)
By 1914, 1/3 of government expenditure was being used for defence, which was more than Germany. A General Staff and a Council of State were created for policy decisions in the army, but the decisions were still aristocrat-dominated.
War Minister, Sukhomlinov, issued his friends with lucrative appointments and contracts. His "friends" may not be so good at a job, in comparison to others.
Russia was mobilising quickly for the war, meaning that they were very inadequate and rushed, and - most importantly - weak. Germans reallocated troops from France to the Eastern Front in August 1914. The Russians were outmanoeuvred, and they were destroyed at Tannenberg and the Mansurian Lakes. 200,000 professional soldiers were killed or captured in this month.
During 1915 and 1916, a succession of defeats resulted in massive casualties. The Germans had passed 100 miles of Russian territory by July 1915, as well as Warsaw and Russian Poland falling into the hands of the Germans. Front-line troops were ill equipped and demoralised, short of bullets, shells and first aid. Conscription was increased, but standard of soldiers fell and a weaker army was formed. Trotsky described the Army by 1916 as "peasants in uniform".
Reasons for the disaster were that there was inadequate transport, communication, supplies (3 shells per gun per day by 1915), and the problem that Nicholas II announced that he would be leaving the capital and heading the front lines as Commander in Chief. Moreover, Russia could only win short wars because of their lack of communication, and they had never encountered a war like this before.
Social Consequences of the War (industrial)
The beginning of 1915, the government was surrounded by a scandal that the War Minister, Sukhomlinov, was awarding lucrative contracts for war materials to his friends, who weren't fit for the job. The government disregarded this issue. Other than this, state owned industries suffered from bureaucracy and corruption. In 1915, the president of the Duma wanted to get the heads of the Zemstva and ask their co-operation to help with war and combat the lack of ammunition and boots. Maklakov accused Rodzianko that "the real object of this meeting is to discuss political questions and demand a constitution".
Prince Lvov set up the "Union of Zemstva" (ZEMGOR) to coordinate the economy, organise hospitals and medical treatment. The regime resented their intervention, but co-operated in 1915 during an economic crisis in Russia. Firstly, Sukhomlinov was sacked for his poor work, and Zemgor would supervise light industry. Gutchkov set up the Central War Industries Committee, which supervised heavy industry, and August 1915 saw further attempts to help the economy with other "Special Committees for Defence, Food, Fuel and Transportation". However, iron and coal production fell between 1914-16; the signalling system was failing; 572 stations could no longer condition.
Social Consequences of the War (other)
Although that harvest was of a good standard, production was slow because of the lack of mechanization and fertiliser. The transportation problems, and the 6 million refugees escaping from Germany compounded to the food shortage problem.
Inflation was affecting everyone's living conditions. Rationing was implemented but the higher classes were never short of food. Living conditions worsened for the poor. The military even began to sympathise with the poor workers. In November 1916, 5000 troops demonstrated in sympathy with the workers of Ukraine. Bread increased in price by 500%, milk increased in price by 150% and butter increased in price by 830% in 1914-16.
Political aspect of the War (1)
The Duma that usually aided the Tsar in 1914 turned against him in 1915 due to the War. January of 1915, the Duma was called again. Kerensky, a left Social Revolutionary, questioned the compliance of the Duma. However, other than him, the remaining delegates were still loyal.
When it came to July 1915, the Duma was called again, but the delegates were more angry about the war. One member asked "who controls Russia at the present moment?" and claimed that the "entire administrative structure of Russia must be reformed". 3/4 of the Duma's delegates and State Council members organized a "progressive bloc". The main target of the Bloc was to get a constitution, and to get the current President of Ministers, Goremykin, to persuade the Tsar to pass a bill in law.
Further complications aroused when Nicholas appointed himself as commander in chief. Not only did it make him likeable from all the good that the military accomplished, but it made him accountable for all of the failures of the military. 9 ministers, including Rodzyanko, pleaded with the Tsar to change his mind. He wrote a letter that begs "Your Majesty not to subject Your sacred person to the dangers in which You may be placed by the consequences of Your decision" and that there is "general mistrust (surrounding) the present government" inspired by the "Germans around You".
Political aspects of the War (2)
Nicholas left regardless of the plea, and left his German wife and Rasputin in charge of the country. The public despised the regime further given that there was a rumour that Rasputin and the Tsarina were in an affair. In January 1916, Nicholas finally sacked Goremykin and replaced him with B. V. Stuermer, who had no knowledge of experience of war. This move was resented by the opposition and the moderates; Mikiukov attacked the government by asking "is this stupidity, or is it treason?" because the decision was principally the Tsarina's.
The leader of the Octobrists (Gutchkov) began to plot to install a new government and assassinate Nicholas in 1916. Following that in December, Prince Yudupov murdered Rasputin to remove criticism of the regime. Although they did it to save the Tsar, the heart of the Tsarina was broken. The Tsar, naturally, returned to Tsarskoe Selo to comfort his wife, depriving the front lines of command. The members of the Royal Family wanted to take action against the Tsar, and they signed a petition with 16 signatures to not punish the assassins. Additionally, Grand Duke Michael was approached by officers wanting to enlist his help for a coup.
The workers also began to organise themselves through the War Industry Committees, where workers and delegates would be summonded as witnesses to raise important political issues. The Mensheviks saw this as the nucleus of a broader labour movement.