Why the USSR was preparing to war with Britain and France in 1940

History 20/01/20 Why the USSR was preparing to war with Britain and France in 1940

Since the beginning of the Second world war and the conclusion of the Soviet-German friendship Treaty on 28 September 1939 the Soviet Union was considered by the ruling circles of Britain and France as one of the main enemies along with Germany. In joint plans of the British and French chief of staff was waging war against the Soviet Union in the North of Finland in winter 1939/40, and also the opening of the Transcaucasian theater of military operations by bombing the Baku oil district. The challenge for such a bombing was staged by the British air forces in the middle East last 12 June 1941, ten days before Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. At the same time efforts were made by nailing against the Soviet Union coalition in Romania, Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia.

It would be strange if the Soviet leadership and the military command had no plans for a defensive and pre-emptive action against Britain and France in these areas. That the Union considers the Western countries as aggressor countries and the main culprits of the Second world war, Stalin clearly stated in Pravda on 30 November 1939, the day when the Soviet Union started military actions against Finland,

“Not Germany attacked France and England, and France and Britain attacked Germany, assuming responsibility for the present war. The ruling circles of England and France rudely rejected peace proposals of Germany and the Soviet Union’s attempts to achieve an early end of war.”

Turkey is the main theatre of war

In 2010, the Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation declassified some pre-war documents of the Transcaucasian military district (ZakVO). Extracts from them were published in the pages of “Military-Industrial Courier” in June 2012.

13 Jan 1940 commander of ZakVO, the commander of 2-ggrade about Ivan Tyulenev, was sent to the chief of the General staff of the red army, Marshal Shaposhnikov, a memo in which he warned about the impending England and France, a provocation to draw Turkey and Iran into the war against the Soviet Union. February 7, seals addressed to Stalin in Moscow and the people’s Commissar of defense, Marshal Voroshilov report on the enemy’s intentions and willingness ZakVO to meet him. In the reports of this level of statement that somebody makes a provocative war against the Soviet Union, could be only repetitions of this over the installation and the response to it. Seals reported that in the spring of 1940, Britain and France intend to open hostilities against the Soviet Union with a total of 44 Turkish, Iranian and Anglo-Indian divisions and 1500-2000 combat aircraft.

At the same time the commander of the aviation of the red army, the commander of the 2nd grade Yakov Smushkevich, signed an order on a careful study of the middle East theater of operations. Special attention was ordered to pay the largest Turkish ports, Straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, the Turkish capital city, Ankara, the largest military air base Kyryk-Calais next to it. Crews should “to have the navigation and performance calculations with different versions of bomb load”.

Thus, the Soviet leadership hoped that the main ally of the Western powers in the region will be Turkey, and planned to fight mainly with her. The operation focused mainly on the BBC. The occupation of Turkey was extremely difficult and hopeless. Air strikes by the largest Turkish ports, the Soviet command apparently planned to disrupt all attempts of military supplies Turkey by the Western powers. Without such support, lacking its own heavy industry, Turkey could long resist. This would be probably sufficient mastery of key positions in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

what the war was about the Soviet black sea fleet

control of the Straits from the Black sea to the Mediterranean was considered the most important strategic the problem in Russia since the late 18th century, during the reign of Catherine II. Particular importance was attached to the issue of the events of the Crimean and First world wars. At a meeting with Hitler in Berlin in November 1940 the people’s Commissar of foreign Affairs Molotov unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Fuhrer’s support for the demands of the USSR to Turkey in order to obtain bases in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles and the right of free passage of its warships through the Straits with the simultaneous closure of the Straits to the fleets of other countries.

the Orders on the black sea fleet (BSF) 1940-1-the first half of 1941 indicate that the Navy is not preparing to act together with the land army against the enemy, threatening the bases of the black sea fleet from land and air, and against superior forces of the navies, able to break through the Bosphorus. Such naval fleets had at that period in the Mediterranean sea only England and France. Planning was largely inspired by memories of the Crimean war, when the enemy, taking advantage of superiority at sea, landed troops on the shore (in the Crimea).

in March, then in June 1941 was held large-scale exercises of the black sea fleet together with the troops of the Odessa military district to repel large potential enemy landings in the Crimea. Have repeatedly posed the task of mining of the approaches to Sevastopol Bay to the enemy fleet (especially submarines) can’t suddenly break through to the Soviet bases. Such a breakthrough was possible only in the case if Turkey opened the Bosporus and Dardanelles Anglo-French or Anglo-American fleet (but not German-Italian, whose force was inferior to the Soviet black sea fleet).

the report of the commander of the VVS black sea fleet aviation division commander Vasiliy Rusakov, Naval Staff about development plans for 1940-1941 mentioned the necessity of bringing aviation in the state in which it will be able to inflict “heavy bombardment” around the bases in the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Among the targets was named Constanta, Izmail, Varna, Thessaloniki, Izmir, Alexandria, Haifa, Malta, Suezthe cue channel, Brindisi. The document was written before June, 1940, before the entry in war of Italy on the side of Germany and the inclusion of Bessarabia into the USSR. The most important task for the development of aviation of the black sea fleet was called the ability to “systematic attacks on Alexandria and the Suez canal to deprive England and the Mediterranean countries the opportunity to exploit this communication”.

So the Soviet armed forces in 1939-1941 was prepared to meet any confrontation with the armed forces of Britain, France and their allies in the middle East, fully prepared and to conduct active offensive operations, especially on the seas and in the air. After the release of war of France in the summer of 1940, this task has not lost its relevance to the Soviet leadership.

Yaroslav Butakov

© Russian Seven

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