This article re-evaluates the strategic importance of the Russo–Ottoman conflict in Tsarist Russia’s Great War between 1914 and the February Revolution, and by extension in the First World War as a whole. Encompassing the Ottoman closure of the Turkish Straits from 1914 and the associated Gallipoli campaign of 1915–16, it argues that this conflict broadly defined had a crippling impact on the logistics of Tsarist Russia’s entire war effort that was out of all proportion to the perception of it as a sideshow. These problems and their impacts are identified and assessed through an analysis of the principal Russian railway traffic flows that were associated directly with the Russo–Ottoman conflict. Archival data are used to help inform a brief counterfactual discussion of how the removal of these problems through an Allied victory in the Gallipoli campaign or a separate peace with the Ottoman Empire would have created important opportunities to ease the pressure on the Russian railways substantially. In reality the Russo–Ottoman war continued to disrupt the transport system, severely harming the war economy and thus helping to make more likely the implosion of the Tsarist war effort that ultimately occurred in the form of the February Revolution.