November 01, 2019

The Winter War

The Winter War
Finnish machine gunners in late 1939.

November 30, 1939, marked the start of a war that has been all but forgotten in Russia: the war between the Soviet Union and Finland, commonly referred to in English as “The Winter War.”

The two countries had been negotiating an exchange of borderlands, but were unable to come to terms. Not surprisingly, Finland had no desire to give up territory that included the well-developed city of Vyborg in exchange for undeveloped Karelian forest (albeit a lot of it). After talks broke down, the Soviet people were given the improbable news that little Finland had invaded. Thankfully, the Red Army had turned the table on the shameless aggressor and crossed into Finland.

The assumption was that Soviet tanks would reach Helsinki in no time. At that point, a new Soviet government that was waiting in the wings would be quickly installed and immediately express its desire to become a part of the USSR.

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See Also

A War By Any Other Name

A War By Any Other Name

This issue's language column looks at the many subtleties of what one calls the war, and some parts of it.
Russian Finland

Russian Finland

Most Finns define their nationhood and heritage in terms of Russia, of which Finland was a part from 1809 to 1917. We explore the complex interplay of Russo-Finnish relations, past and present,especially those along the border.
The Winter War: More than a Prelude

The Winter War: More than a Prelude

The Soviet war with Finland in 1939-1940 tends to get overshadowed by its notable neighbor, World War II. But in fact, the Winter War was a disaster all its own.

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