December 10, 2022

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The Lesson Stalin Can Teach Putin About Invading Neighbor

The Lesson Stalin Can Teach Putin About Invading Neighbor

According to Stanford University researcher Stephen Kotkin, The last biography of the Soviet leader He explains that Stalin hardly hides his desires. “We can’t do anything about geography, and you can’t do that,” Stalin told a Finnish official. “Since Leningrad cannot be moved, the borders must be moved farther away.” (Not that Finns had any misconceptions about Stalin; as Kotkin wrote, “For the leaders of Finnish parliamentary democracy, Stalin was a gangster.”)

Diplomatic efforts were to be expected to fail, not least because of Stalin’s stubbornness. “Do you intend to stir up conflict?” The perplexed Soviet Foreign Minister asked Stalin at one point. Stalin only smiled in response. The answer soon became clear.

But one question remained: how to create a reason for the invasion. After all, the Soviets and the Finns maintained a non-aggression pact, and no one would credibly view the Finns – who have a population of only 4 million, compared to 170 million in the Soviet Union – as aggressors. With government propaganda outlets pumping out anti-Finland propaganda, and with Soviet officials in the Kremlin taunting Soviet forces with the invasion of Helsinki in less than three days, Stalin spied on the solution.

On November 26, I fired five shells and grenades Criticize the Soviet position Along the Soviet-Finnish border. Four died, including several Soviet soldiers, and nine others were wounded. Although the Finnish investigation immediately indicated that their forces were shot and killed by Soviet forces, the Soviets moved just as quickly. Claiming that they were coming to defend the “democratic forces” against the “fascist military clique” running Helsinki, Stalin immediately declared his support for a new “people’s government”, headed by a carefully selected Finnish communist. Over 100,000 Soviet soldiers rolled into a nation without air power, hardly any armored vehicles, and without even any radio technology at its disposal. Having been left by the Western partners, the Finns stood alone. Stalin stood ready to divide the country as he pleased.

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Kotkin wrote that it was “the first real test of Stalin as a military figure since the Russian Civil War.” It was a test that he would fail spectacularly.

The first signs of the Soviet incursion It would not be easy, as early Soviet leaders had promised.

After forming a puppet government, Stalin assumed he could rally the Finnish working class to the Soviet banner—an assumption that collapsed almost immediately. (As a Soviet reporter wrote, “This [Soviet-backed] The government exists only on paper.”) Instead of bowing to a new puppet regime, Finns of all backgrounds rallied around a national identity that had formed in response to the Soviet incursion. Rather than war over Moscow’s specific border claims, the war on the Finns suddenly turned into a question of Finnish national existence.