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View Poll Results: Did the Soviet Union "Defeat" Finland
Yes 3 21.43%
Yes, but victory not worth cost 1 7.14%
Yes, but victory clearly Pyrrhic Victory 2 14.29%
No, because unlike Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia Finland Remained Independent 5 35.71%
No 2 14.29%
Other views, and poll respondents, please post below 1 7.14%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-01-2022, 08:34 AM
 
Location: New York Area
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Did the Soviet Union win the "Winter War" between the USSR and Finland? On paper they did but as some general said "any more victories like that and we're done for." See With Triumphs Like These, Who Needs Defeats? In November 1939 the USSR attacked Finland. Finland did not just role over to the vastly superior Soviet forces. Finland mounted what one historian called a "Fabian defense." See Lessons from the Winter War: Frozen Grit and Finland’s Fabian Defense (link, excerpt below)
Quote:
Whether on the soccer pitch or the field of battle, humans have a natural tendency to root for the underdog. Our sacred texts, medieval ballads, and regimental histories are filled with gut-wrenching tales of desperate men facing overwhelming odds. From the battle of Thermopylae to the siege of the Alamo, from the gunfight at Camaron to the clash at Rorke’s Drift, there is something about such lopsided contests that continues to exert a powerful sway over our collective imagination.
All too often, however, it is certain climactic battles-or flashes in the pan of martial history that capture our interest, rather than the more protracted and less cinematic struggles between two unevenly matched armies. An exception might be the campaigns of Quintus Fabius Maximus during the Second Punic War. The redoubtable Roman’s efforts have bequeathed to us something of an awkward nomenclature — the adjective Fabian — now used to designate nationally driven scorched-earth tactics or strategies of delay and progressive attrition.
There are countless other fascinating examples of Fabian warfare that could and should be drawn upon by contemporary strategists.

***********

Yet one of history’s most dramatic tales of Fabian defense is found much further north, in the dark pine forests stretching beyond the Arctic Circle and in the mass graveyards that still dot the banks of the Karelian Isthmus. Karelia, renowned for its natural beauty, is one of those many bucolic but benighted stretches of territory that by the tyranny of geography have found themselves repeatedly ravaged by great power conflicts.
Finland’s Winter War with the Soviet Union, waged over the course of 105 days from November 1939 to March 1940, should be an object of study for all students of military strategy.
In A Short History Of The 'Winter War' (link in title, authored by Imperial War Museums) the Winter War was aptly summarized, "(t)he ‘Winter War’ of 1939-1940, also known as the Russo-Finnish War, saw the tiny Finnish Army take on the might of the Soviet Union’s gigantic Red Army….A faked border incident gave the Soviet Union the excuse to invade on 30 November 1939. The Red Army was ill-equipped, poorly led, and unable to deal with the Finnish terrain and winter weather. Though small and under-resourced, the Finnish Army was resilient, well-led and was able to use knowledge of the terrain to good effect.” The outcome of the war may have been a victory, but a limited one and hardly worth the price for the Soviets. Link, excerpts below:
Quote:
The treaty ending the Winter War forced Finland to cede 11 percent of its territory to the Soviet Union, yet the country maintained its independence and later squared off against Russia a second time during World War II. For the Soviets, meanwhile, victory came at a heavy cost. During just three months of fighting, their forces suffered over 300,000 casualties compared to around 65,000 for the Finns.
This mini-war, the British "victory" at Bunker Hill and other "triumphs" by powerful countries, then, often are not worth much when against determined defenders. I welcome other accounts of similar efforts, which is why I posted this on "History."

Other links on this war that may be of interest:
  1. Lessons from the Winter War: Frozen Grit and Finland's ...

  2. Winter War: The 1939 Soviet Invasion Of Finland In Crystal

  3. Russia versus Ukraine: Lessons from the Winter War between


Last edited by jbgusa; 03-01-2022 at 08:43 AM..
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Old 03-01-2022, 09:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jbgusa View Post
Did the Soviet Union win the "Winter War" between the USSR and Finland? On paper they did but as some general said "any more victories like that and we're done for."
Just to add, there are several finnish movies on the Winter War that are on my agenda to watch, one "Tuntematon sotilas", the 2017 version, in particular.
Have to find an english CC version, apparantly on Amazon Prime for purchase.

Everyone does root for the underdog, but then again we have to deal with the knowledge that Finland was a co-belligerent with Nazi Germany.

As a point of trivia, the Finns adapted captured Mosin Nagent rifles from the Russians and modified them with superior barrels and other features. They carry a premium in the WWII relic arms marketplace.
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Old 03-01-2022, 10:20 AM
 
Location: San Diego CA
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And speaking of weaponry the Finns successfully operated the US Brewster Buffalo which was such a disaster with US forces at Midway Island and with British forces in Malaya and Singapore.
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Old 03-01-2022, 04:04 PM
 
Location: North America
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It's really not a YES or NO question.

Stalin failed to absorb Finland into the USSR or, failing that, to install a subservient puppet regime. He brought international condemnation and ridicule upon his country, and lost international political capital as a result. He reinforced Adolf Hitler's notion that the Soviets would be a pushover - though I don't think Hitler was going to be dissuaded from invading regardless of the 1939/40 performance of the Red Army. He also handed Hitler an ally in Barbarossa that he would not otherwise have had.

On the other hand, the Soviets did gain territory and other concessions (temporary basing rights). And as with all military engagements, lessons were learned, and the Red Army had a lot to learn. It could also be argued that it wasn't nearly as bad for Stalin as it was for the Soviets (the soldiers who died and suffered in the Winter War, and the deaths that followed after Barbarossa was launched). The interests of the leader and the people frequently diverge when it comes to war, among other things.


Last edited by 2x3x29x41; 03-01-2022 at 04:18 PM..
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Old 03-01-2022, 04:07 PM
 
Location: New York Area
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^^^^^^^^^^
Couldn't rep you again but priceless.
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Old 03-02-2022, 07:41 AM
 
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What the war did was convince Hitler it would be easy to defeat the Russians in a matter of weeks. If little Finland could give the USSR such a bad time, the Wehrmacht would go through them like a hot knife through butter.
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Old 03-02-2022, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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It surely depends on the definition of victory. What were each side's war goals? If the Soviet goal was annexation and if the Finnish goal was keeping all territory, I think at the end I'd call it a draw because neither side could achieve its goals.
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Old 03-02-2022, 08:41 AM
 
Location: New York Area
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Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
What the war did was convince Hitler it would be easy to defeat the Russians in a matter of weeks. If little Finland could give the USSR such a bad time, the Wehrmacht would go through them like a hot knife through butter.
I've read that in a few places, but the Russian Army has always been famously incompetent, especially on the offensive. They weren't much better fighting the Turks in the late 1700's. Defense is always easier, especially in cases where people are fighting for their own countries. Often the civilians pitch in quite a bit, as in Finland in the Winter War, and the USSR during the Napoleonic and Nazi invasions.

While the picture in the post two or three posts up is obviously a joke, every tree or physical hiding place can contain snipers. Attacking troops don't have that advantage.
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Old 03-02-2022, 08:57 AM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Notice their tactics for invasion haven't changed: a faked incident near the border, to justify the invasion. This is what has been done more recently to justify invading Moldova's eastern region, Transdnistria, and was on the docket for Ukraine as well, until someone leaked the film footage of a faked incident to the US a couple of weeks prior to the invasion of Ukraine, which the US outed before it could be televised in Russia.

But what surprised me about the Winter War narrative, was that the Sov. army wasn't prepared to fight in northern Finland's winter conditions. The conditions are the same as on the Soviet side of the border. If the Soviets weren't up to the task of winter fighting, who possibly could be? Isn't that what gave them an edge over Napoleon and Hitler, both? But I guess those latter wars took place further south, where the winter conditions weren't as bad as up around the Arctic Circle.

Wasn't that kind of dumb of Stalin to initiate a war in the far north in winter? But in summer the conditions would be completely different, and vexing in a different way: some of the tundra would turn to bogs, mosquitoes would so thick, you'd be breathing them in with every breath unless all troops had helmets equipped with netting. Stalin apparently felt, that Finland would be easy pickings. He found out otherwise.

Last edited by Ruth4Truth; 03-02-2022 at 09:12 AM..
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Old 03-02-2022, 09:12 AM
 
14,994 posts, read 23,906,411 times
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Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
Notice their tactics for invasion haven't changed: a faked incident near the border, to justify the invasion. This is what has been done more recently to justify invading Moldova's eastern region, Transdnistria, and was on the docket for Ukraine as well, until someone leaked the film footage of a faked incident to the US a couple of weeks prior to the invasion of Ukraine, which the US outed before it could be televised in Russia.

But what surprised me about the Winter War narrative, was that the Sov. army wasn't prepared to fight in northern Finland's winter conditions. The conditions are the same as on the Soviet side of the border. If the Soviets weren't up to the task of winter fighting, who possibly could be? Isn't that what gave them an edge over Napoleon and Hitler, both? But I guess those latter wars took place further south, where the winter conditions weren't as bad as up around the Arctic Circle.
Well Finnish soldiers had experience too. Anyways, Russian military performance during winter is overrated. I would say it wasn't a real factor in the Winter War except that winter always favors the defenders. But in Napoleon's invasion, that's a great misconception. Winter had nothing to do with it, except in the retreat. They actually suffered more in the hot summer. In WWII, Russian soldiers as well as German soldiers suffered in the winter, but the impact was indirectly felt more by the attacking army - mostly due to the extended supply line. Russian's simply dug in. The limitations of logistics and the great expanse of Russia defeated these armies, not winter.
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