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Strongest Soviet invasion Army of WW2. What was it doing in Ukraine in 1940 – 1941 before Hitler’s attack?

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Modern Russian as well as former Soviet propaganda have been trying to imply that the USSR began to form its armies only after World War Two began. But it is just not true. The Soviet Union began to form armies in the European part of its territories in 1939 – the 3rd and 4th Armies appeared in Belarus, the 5th and 6th in Ukraine, and the 7th, 8th and 9th near Finland. What for? Harvard Professor Robert C. Tucker, a political scientist and historian in his second part of Stalin’s biography, Stalin in Power: The Revolution From Above: 1928-1941, described the important events of 1939: “Having pursued the divisive diplomacy and observed the emergence in Europe of two potentially warring coalitions, Stalin in his party congress speech set in motion talks leading to an alignment with Berlin. He did so by professing a desire for peace and business relations with “all” interested states and disclaiming any intention of “pulling chestnuts out of the fire” for others. That raised the possibility of a negotiated neutrality which would insure Hitler against what he had to fear most: a two-front war. This, Stalin could calculate, would enable Hitler to unleash aggression and him, while remaining neutral, to take over territories in Eastern Europe on an agreed-upon basis… Five days after Stalin addressed the party congress on 10 March, Hitler seized the remainder of Czechoslovakia, setting up a protectorate over the Czech lands and a “free state” of Slovakia. This dramatic demonstration that appeasement would not satiate Hitler catalyzed change in the Anglo-French stance.” It is after that very 18th Congress that Vyacheslav Molotov was appointed and understanding with Nazi Germany was pursued resulting in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Why did Stalin choose Molotov by the way? R.C. Tucker explains the reasons: “On 3 May Molotov, while retaining the premiership, was appointed foreign commissar and Litvinov was dismissed from that post… The dismissal of Litvinov, who was not only Jewish but known for his pro-Western orientation, did not fail to arouse Hitler’s interest… “

From Winter War to Southern Ukraine

The 9th Army of the Soviets first appeared at the borders of Finland in 1939. In the Winter War against Finland, the 9th Army was simply a rifle corps consisting of three rifle divisions.

After the Finnish war ended, the 9th turned up on the Romanian frontier in southern Ukraine, where, following the Finnish pattern, it helped “liberate” the workers of Bessarabia and Bukovina at the very same time other Soviet Armies were “liberating” Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia.

“Liberation” of Bessarabia was nothing like the war with Finland – the Soviet Union pressured Romania under threat of war into withdrawing from the region. The major part of the annexed area was attached to present-day Moldova.

After the “liberation” campaign, the 9th Army, although officially disbanded, stayed in the area – its headquarters and the headquarters of the Odesa Military District merged into one entity.

Invasion, Shock and Cover Soviet Armies

The term “invasion army” was used by the Soviet experts until 1935 approximately; after that, the terms “shock army” and “cover army” were used to conceal the real purpose.

It was the strike power that made a shock army different from an ordinary army. In this case, it was a mechanized corps consisting of 1, 031 tanks which was comparable to the strike power of any German tank group. According to Viktor Suvorov, the author of Icebreaker, “on 21 June 1941, all the Soviet armies on the German and Romanian borders, as well as the 23rd Army on the Finnish frontier, were of shock army standard. They were, from north to south, the 23rd, 8th, 11th, 3rd, 10th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 26th, 12th, 18th, and 9th. The 16th Army was then added to them.”

Three Out of the Ordinary Armies

Of the thirteen armies mentioned, three of them were different– the 6th and the 9th armies in Ukraine, and the 10th in Belarus.

These three armies were to have 2,350 tanks, 698 armored vehicles, over 4,000 guns and mortars and more than 250,000 soldiers and officers each. Also, they were to receive up to twelve heavy artillery regiments. With so many tanks, each one of them was roughly equal to one-half of the entire German Wehrmacht.

Viktor Suvorov: “If we call the German tank groups, each with between 600 and 1,000 tanks, engines of aggression, what then are we to call the 6th, 9th, and 10th Soviet Armies?”

Super Heavy Shock Army

But even of the three heavy shock armies, the 9th one still stands out.

“On 21 June 1941, the 9th Army had 17 divisions in all, including two air, four tank, two motorized, two cavalry and seven rifle. At full strength, the seven corps of the 9th Army had 3,341 tanks. This was roughly the same number as the Wehrmacht had; in quality, they were superior. According to Colonel-General P. Belov (at that time he was a major-general, commander of the 2nd Cavalry Corps of the 9th Army), it was intended to give T-34 tanks even to the cavalry of this army.” (The Icebreaker).

The 9th Army was also unique in having a colonel-general as its commander. Thirty other Soviet armies had major-generals and lieutenant-generals as their commanders.

Oil Fields

So, what did the most powerful army of the world doing on the border with Romania? What was its purpose?

Romania was Germany’s basic source of oil. A strike at Ploiesti Oil Refineries, which were less than 200 kilometers away, would ground all Germany’s industry and whole German military machine to a halt.

“Hitler allowed none of this to happen. A German government statement handed over to the Soviet government on the outbreak of war in the East gives the reasons for Germany’s action. One of these reasons was that Soviet troops were being concentrated unjustifiably on the frontier with Romania and that this represented a mortal danger for Germany.

Where and when did the largest tank battle of WW2 take place? It was not Kursk >

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