By 1917 discontent among the Russian people and the military was at crisis level. Amid civil unrest, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated in February 1917 to be succeeded by a provisional government. This government continued Russian involvement in the war. But then in October 1917 came the Bolshevik revolution led by Vladimir Lenin.
Russia’s new communist leaders were now anxious to end the war. The Germans agreed to an end to fighting on the Eastern Front. At first, the Russians, with their negotiating team led by Leon Trotsky, tried to soften the harsh terms offered by the Germans. The Germans responded by continuing military action against the Russians.
This renewed German military action forced the communists to agree the peace treaty, which punished them severely. Under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed in March 1918, Russia lost large swathes of territory, including Finland, Ukraine and Poland. Anti-communist Russians were furious at this capitulation, and civil war now broke out in Russia.