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Old 23 Feb 12, 14:15
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Originally Posted by broderickwells View Post
Quick run through - The RA v the Finns started off a disaster and improved. Against the Japanese, excellent admin work and overall effort. The Invasion of Poland indicated the kit was rubbish and needed replacement. The Poles faced even worse odds than they did against the Germans. Casualties on both sides were quite light (combined total max. 10,000). The "invasions of the Baltics and Romania were not military invasions so much as "gunboat diplomacy". They were all agreed in the R-M pact. As for Soviet troop dispositions - unfortunately the generals had to agree to the Politburo's directives regarding these. Zhukov, Timoshenko and Shaposhnikov weren't fools. Unfortunately for the RA, Voroshilov and Budyonny were.
I live in a cold climate and know what it's like to work outdoors in -40C degree weather, just operating in those conditions is a challenge. The Red Army not only operated, it was carrying out large scale offensive operations in terrain dominated by lakes, rock outcropping and dense conifer forests against a well trained opponent who had several decades to prepare and was fighting from well planned positions. The area was heavily mined and while not as heavily fortified as it was made out to be by some sources was a tough defence to crack. Most sane commanders wouldn't have even tried and most armed forces would have been broken. The Red Army took heavy damage, picked itself up and continued on to eventually succeed, it's an impressive campaign, not a failure.

The battles around Khalkhin Gol convinced the Japanese to avoid combat with the Red Army if at all possible.

Just moving the massive amounts of units in operations like in the Baltic States and Moldavia is a challenge, the Red Army was gaining experience and confidence with every successful operation.

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The problem the RA had was that, while the T-34 and KV-1 were deadly on the Panzers, the LW controlled the air making supply, recce and movement difficult. They were also not available in large groups. A lack of radios made coordination a bit hit or miss too.
The big problem in June of 1941 is that many Red Army units were in transit to the frontier when the Germans hit, it's hard to carry out effective operations when most of your division is strung out for miles on trains or your HQ isn't in contact with most of its attached units. It wasn't the inferiority of the Red Army that was the problem in June of 1941, it was its disposition.

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Getting to it involved going through either Poland, Hungary, Romania or Slovakia. These guys are not renowned for their roads.
The BT series tanks weren't useless on unimproved road networks, just more suited to hard surfaced roads. And there were plenty of other tanks to do the breakthrough work. There were already closed to 1,000 T-34 reaching front line units with more to come, and I think close to 500 KV-1s. That's close to half the number of the German tanks of much lighter qualities. If the Red Army had stolen the march on the Germans the results would most likely have been as catastrophic for the Axis powers massing on the Eastern frontier.

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Two attacks, four annexations. In the same period, Germany annexed four countries (one twice), and attacked eight. Germany was surrounded by enemies of their own creation. The USSR was surrounded by states inimical to the Soviet system of government, as well as a few distant and vocal opponents. The USSR was the only communist state and perceived itself very much under siege. During the October revolution/civil war, they had been invaded by several western countries, Japan and had the Baltics and a few other pieces of territory stripped off by German machinations.
The Soviet moves were a set up for the eventual movement westwards.

The USSR was seen quite rightly as the base of a political, military movement whose main intent was the removal of other systems of government and economic control it felt was somehow inferior to communist ideals...so who is inimical to whom. From its earliest days when the Bolsheviks made common cause with the Germans during WW I they were creating a hostile relationship with the western nations. When the Bolsheviks accepted German aid in getting Lenin and other party leaders from Switzerland to Russia in 1917 and then millions of marks funneled through Sweden to build the support base to take over the nation it was in the expectation that the Bolsheviks would remove Russia from the war and possibly allow the Germans to win, which almost happened as Germany was able to mass powerful forces in the west after the USSR signed a peace treaty with Germany in the spring of 1918. You don't create good will by stabbing your allies in the back, and it created a precedent that Stalin repeated in August of 1939 when he made common cause with Hitler.

Soviet leaders didn't see themselves under seige, they saw themsleves as the forefront of a movement that would sweep away the old world order and replace it with a communist utopia...only it was a fantasy. People had more rights under the old Russian Imperial system than they did under communism.

International communism was almost exclusively a creation of the Communist Party of the USSR and served it's interests and caused a lot of grief for decades to western open society at many levels...so who was placing whom under seige?

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Soviet armies charging to the defence of the Third Reich? The R-M pact is a non-aggression treaty: a promise to remain neutral if either party is attacked by a third party. I know you hate the Bolsheviks, but I think you need to take a couple of deep breaths and re-check some of the assumptions you've made here.
It wasn't a non-aggression pact, when the Red Army invaded Poland it became a mutual aggression towards other nations pact.

And I don't hate the Bolsheviks, I love the freedoms I was born into and I feel strongly are worth defending.

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The Kalmyks, Chechens, and Crimean Tatars (as opposed to the Volga Tatars) made the mistake of supporting the invading Germans. The ethnic Germans and the Poles were deported because of Stalin's paranoia. Whether the ethnic Germans would have welcomed the Nazi regime is a question I've not heard anyone give a definitive answer to.
Anyway you try and rationalize it, Stalin was a brutal leader who had virtually no regard for individual life.

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And the English think themselves civilised...
Nobody is perfect, nations colonized by the British tend to do better in many regards than those colonized or created by other powers. Ireland is definitely a black eye though and still remains one to a degree.

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Also in perspective, 80% were over 6 years old in 1941.
How many decades did T-34s and T-54/55s run for, there are still Soviet built tanks from the 1950s in battle today. The Soviets built their equipment tough.

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Who invaded whom first? Germany invaded the Rhineland, then Austria, then Czechoslovakia (twice) and finally Poland before war was declared. Here's a link to the agreed Soviet-German sphere's of influence according to the R-M pact. The interesting thing about the Soviet annexations were that the Germans supported them and to an extent moderated them Romania was to have lost more territory to the USSR than they did but Stalin complied with a German request to lessen his demands. Also, all the territory taken by the USSR had been part of the Tsarist empire in 1914. Stalin was recovering the lost empire (see what they took off Japan in 1945).
And the Germans would in all likelyhood not have been able to carry out such operations for years if not for Soviet assistance in preparing for war. Suvorov's main thesis is Stalin was the main architect of the struggle which he intended to use as a means to expanding his control into all of Europe, I don't see any indications this wasn't the case.

So you're admitting that Stalin was recreating the expansionist Russian Empire, thank you for finally seeing what I've been trying to say. Yes, Stalin was an imperialist of the old school and he was once again rapidly expanding the Russian Empire to its old glory and well beyond with the modern technology he had acquired from the west and intended to use againt them.

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The other thing to consider is that Stalin was not a gambler. Part of the reason for the incredibly harsh industrialisation was that Stalin was aware how important industrial output was. It was the reason Russia fell out of WWI. And it was plain Germany, the largest economic power in Europe was going steadily further to the right and the Nazis were making lots of loud noises about Lebensraum, Jewish Bolsheviks and using violence to do something about both. Damn straight they're going to get armed to the teeth. Wouldn't you?
Stalin was the ultimate gambler, he just used other people to place his bets and had done so for years. Industrialization in the USSR was about militarization, not building a more just and equal society.

I don't see a nation arming for defence in the Soviet Union between the wars, from what we know now, Stalin was one of the most ruthless and ambitious figures in history, people like that aren't interested in maintaining the status quo, they create the status quo to fit their own needs.

Last edited by Mil_dude; 23 Feb 12 at 17:54..