Problems the Provisional Government faced

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The War

War crucial in the way the revolution developed. Central to why the PG failed. Milyukov, Minister of War, wanted to defend Russia and make territorial gains if the Allies won. Wanted control of the Straits, which outraged the socialists in the Soviet who were committed to a defensive war only. PG ended up being reformed, where 5 socialists leaders joined the new coalition government. 

The Summer Offensive 1917

Beginning of Summer, PG decided to launch a major attack against the Germans. Reasons why:

  • Britain and France had requested strongly that Russia attack on the Eastern Front to take the pressure off their forces in the West. PG was responding to its treaty obligations to the Allies. 
  • Still a patriotic element across classes, and did not want to surrender to the Germans. 
  • The Kadets and other conservatives thought an attack may put generals and officers back in control of the armed forces, also some socialists thought a successful offensive may put them in a better position for peace negotiations.

Socialists persuaded by the Liberals that SO should be undertaken. Kerensky, new minister of war, threw himself into the propaganda. Some were willing to fight, however not successful with the soldiers who were increasingly unwilling to fight; little point in fighting territory when everybody wanted peace. Thousands ran away before the offensive began. Lasted three days on 16 June, soldiers killed their officers rather than fight, hundreds and thousands killed, and more territory lost. Armed uprising in July in Petrograd as a result of the loss, and although the PG survived this, longer effect form their war policy was socialist leaders lost their credibility with workers and soldiers.

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The Land

By May 1917, unrest in the countryside. Peasants wanted land, and collapse of central authority meant no one could stop them from taking it. Felt land was theirs and felt betrayed by Emancipation of Serfs 1861. Wanted gvt approval.

Liberals in PG not willing to hand over the land- wait for Constituent Assembly. Concerned that land-free for all would cause soldiers to rush back from the war. Peasants began taking more and more land, as well as livestock, and anything they can get.

When SRs joined PG in May it seemed a better relationship could form between PG and peasants. However SRs too agreed with constituent Assembly. Failed as didnt understand the peasants need for land- they were going to take it anyway.

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National Minority Demands

Demands of the NM were that they called for outright independence. Other areas wanted more autonomy, particularly in the Caucasus region. Ukrains demanded self government and moderate socialists made concessions to them. Outraged liberals who saw it as the first step of the break up of Russia. They belived that for Russia to stay in great power, it must stay together.

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The Deteriorating Economic Situation

Food shortage, high prices, and unemployment were main factors causing the Feb Rev. Economy continued to deteriorate, affecting workers badly. The railway system showed signs of breaking down. Harvest of 1917 was poor, increased price of grain. Factory closings. Peasants unwilling to sell their grain. PG unable to do anything about food prices. Grain was requisitioned, yet made peasants more hostile.

Resources were channelled towards the army, and workers expected social reform after February, with higher wages, and better working hours/conditions. Wages becoming worthless.

Strikes began to increase and workers' committees took over the running of factories. Workers demanded price control and halt to the arrest of profiteers. Socialist leaders in the soviet found themselves increasingly unable to meet demands of the workers.

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