In compliance with his orders, Kolchak reported to the Stavka, Petrograd 2 before hoisting his flag in the Black Sea. He spent almost two hours being briefed by General Alexeiev on the military and political situation on the Western Front and along the Russian lines. It had been neither an encouraging nor optimistic report but it was no more than could have been expected. In 1900, a British observer in China had coined the now famous phrase that the Russian soldiers were ‘lions led by asses’, and this view was certainly confirmed by the events of 1904–5.