The year 1916 witnessed a distinct improvement in the matter of the delivery of war material from abroad as well as of the output of the factories at home, while, thanks to the initiative taken by the zemstvos and town councils, new munition works were being started in different parts of the country. The military outlook on the whole was more promising. In Armenia the army, under the command of the Grand Duke Nicholas, had advanced in mid-winter over a difficult mountainous country, and by the end of February had occupied Erzeroum. On the Bessarabian front the Russians, ever ready to render what assistance they could to their Allies in the west, had taken the offensive with a view to affording some relief to the gallant defenders of Verdun, who were being so hard pressed by the Germans. Though attended with a certain measure of success, this offensive yielded no concrete results owing to its having been launched without sufficient preparation and to a deficiency of aeroplanes and other engines of war.