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If Timoshenko had won the Winter War

Discussion in 'Winter and Continuation Wars' started by General Vatutin, Sep 15, 2016.

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  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I not asking you to, in part because I have doubts they exist or are taken out of context if they do. I merely point out it would be the best possible support for the premise that they did intend to erase Finland from the map.

    As to having faith in Der Speigel, that is your privilege, but you can not expect everyone to share your opinion since it is a single, third hand source. It is interesting that you allude to questionable reliability in the current Der Speigel as it had questions raised when it was in its formative years. Complaints were that it used questionable language/syntax to hide or slant facts in its stories and that for a period it relied upon former Nazi's (including former SS members) writing/contributing to stories.

    This is the third theory you have advanced for the Peace of Moscow. First they were fought to a standstill, then they were afraid Britain would turn the tide and now they were worried about their image on the world stage.

    The simplest answer still remains, they got what they asked for, they fulfilled stated goals and ended the conflict. Q.E.D.
     
  2. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    I have already given you the information that the western historiographie, this the american, british, finnish or german, determines that it is a proven fact that Stalin wanted to crush Finnland. You are an outsider with your faith.

    Show me please, where i did wrote this?
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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  4. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    And here.
     
  5. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Where i go? :confused:
    "Immediately upon arrival in Helsinki"
    Maybe i got that wrong, the puppet government wanted to arrive alongside the Red Army, didn't they?

    You are confusing the both wars.
     
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    With respect, I believe the confusion to be yours. Part I think upon your over reliance of the Der Speigel article. Regrettably as I posted before when translated into English many passages are incomprehensible, and some words remain untranslated. You have stated that English is not your first language and it is quite possible your are not expressing yourself as you might wish. I have to go with what is actually written in your posts.

    The Winter and Continuation wars are two separate, yet deeply linked events as the latter would never have happened without the former.

    You put a great deal of credence in the Finnish Democratic Republic even though it was clearly a product of Soviet propaganda, had no credibility outside Moscow and lived but 4 month's. Primarily I believe Moscow saw this group as something to be seen as giving legitimization to the pretext of coming to the aid to 'downtrodden and oppressed' Russian's under the bootheel of Finland. There may have been some hope that the initial attack would shatter the Helsinki government and draw fearful Finn's to this sham Communist Finnish 'Government'.

    For the Winter War you have posited three reasons for the Soviets to accept the Peace of Moscow.

    The 'defeat' that cost 200,000 men and may or may not have taken place on Russian soil.
    The fear of a British intervention tipping the balance in the Winter War.
    The concern of their world image.

    The Problems with these are,

    Russia had fully breached the Mannerheim Line and now it was Finland taking too many losses.
    Britain was stalled and frankly working on their withdrawal from Norway.
    The Soviet Union did not seem concerned with their world image when over running the Baltic States or occupying eastern Romania.

    For the Moscow Armistice (not to be confused with the Peace of Moscow) you again offer three reasons for the Soviet acceptance.

    The border issues were no longer relevant.
    They were worried about the Anglo-American reaction.
    They suddenly decided a independent Finland might be of some use in the post war world.

    The issues with these are,

    This only reinforces the argument it was about borders all along.
    The Anglo-Americans and the Soviets each operated upon the principle of spheres of influence for military operations (formally ratified at Yalta) and rarely if ever interfered in each others sphere.
    The Soviet Union turned all the nations of central and southeastern Europe into communist states. They could have done so with Finland, but it was only about the borders all along.
     
  7. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I see the WInter War differently.

    IMO, the USSR meant to create a satellite state of Finland, with the puppet government they set up already prior to the war, in power.

    Their original plans, did not entail penetrating the Manenrheim line; merely fixating the forces there, while forces were to bisect Finland from Soumussalmi and reach Oulu, and to go behind the defences lines by circumventing Lake Ladoga. Finnish resistence was expected to crumble and collapse very quickly.

    The demands made, the increasing diplomatic hostility throughout the period, the prolific propaganda aimed against the Finnish government. There was without doubt, every intention to completely subjugate Finland, as Russians saw it as formerly part of the Empire, and rightfully theirs. Throughout this period, they were seeking to extend their borders to that of former Imperial Russia (Eastern Poland, Baltic States, etc).

    The resistence offered by the Finns, together with the inadequate preparation and clumsy use of mechaninised forces in terrain ill-suited, meant that the illusion (that the Burgeois leadership was oppressing the Finnish workers & peasants, who tearned to be free of their oke) told to the Soviet people couldn't really hold water; as the scale of the fighting and extended lack of success meant some backpedaling had to be done in their propaganda. Not just because it was affecting the people at home, but because the troops could see through the lies as well. Therefore, it became expedient for Stalin to accept the border adjustments and end the farce.

    The intent had been to subjugate all of Finland. The use of the border claims was a flimsy excuse. It became the reality, after hundreds of thousands of Soviet casualties and 4 months of fighting proved to even the most obstinate of the Soviets that 99% of Finland didn't really want the Russians there. The Finns killed or injured nearly as many Russians as were originally dedicated to the attack.
     
  8. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I agree with Belasar on the matter. While this has been discussed in previous threads and numerous rogues here have a different opinion on the outcome and intentions of the Soviets I tend to believe that Stalin never wanted to conquer all of Finland. I draw my conclusion on the following.

    First, had Stalin wanted all of Finland the Red Army could have done so in 44'... This did not occur and it wasn't due to the fact that the Red Army was unable to do so.

    Second, the Fins reminded Stalin that it was Lenin himself that granted Finland independence from the Russian empire with virtually a simple stroke of a pen. There is still a monument to Lenin in Finland essentially thanking him for the gesture. Stalin, IMO would not go against his predecessors wishes.
     
  9. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Unfortunately Kai-Petry isn't here, he would tell you what happened. The soviets were stopped in their initial attack with huge losses, had to reduce their troops and then accepted a peace to concentrate on capturing Eastern Europe and Germany fast, which was strategically far more important than a thinly populated Finnland.

    He did that all the time. It wasn't even Lenin wish that he plays an important role in a future Soviet Union without him.
    Stalins His theory of a Socialism in one country was almost the exact opposite of what Lenin wanted. And so on, and so on...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_in_One_Country
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    On November 13, Otto W. Kuusinen (a secretary of the Comintern) wrote a letter to Arvo Tuominen, the secretary general of the (illegal) Finnish Communist Party. Tuominen was then living in Stockholm. He was instructed to rush back to Moscow for an important job in connection with "forceful measures" that Russia was about to undertake against Finland. Tuominen balked. On November 17 he wrote back refusing to heed the Comintern summons. Then on November 21 a courier direct from the Kremlin brought Tuominen an order issued by the CPSU Politburo itself demanding that he fly to Moscow at once. The courier told Tuominen that Russia was on the verge of war with Finland and that he was to be prime minister in a government of Finnish emigres in Russia; Kuusinen was to be president; and they had to choose a cabinet right away. Once again Tuominen turned down the order. Though long a loyal Communist, he was becoming discouraged by the purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact, and now the threat of Russian imperialist war against Finland. Consequently, he also urged the underground Finnish Communist Party to do as he had, thereby considerably undermining any support the local Party might have given to the Russian invaders.

    The political solution was already off stride, but the military solution lurched forward. On November 26 the Soviets staged a shelling incident near their town of Mainila on the Karelian Isthmus, blamed it on the Finns, and demanded a troop pullback. The Finnish cabinet assumed it was only diplomatic whip-cracking in a war of nerves. In a reply note delivered at midnight November 27, they offered a mutual pullback and joint border
    investigation in accord with a 1928 treaty. The next day Molotov denounced the 1932 Russo-Finnish non-aggression and conciliation treaties. Then Finland decided to pull back its troops unilaterally. However, before the Finnish minister in Moscow could deliver the message on November 29, he was given a note at 10:00 P.M. which alleged that Finnish attacks were continuing and broke off diplomatic relations with Finland. On the morning of November 30, the invasion itself began by land, sea, and air. Helsinki was bombed. Soviet troops attacked in the north and midsection of Finland and through the Karelian Isthmus. Moscow demanded unconditional surrender.

    On the same day, November 30, the Moscow press claimed to have received from an "unknown radio broadcast" somewhere in Finland a declaration by the Finnish Communist Party. It called for the overthrow of the Finnish government and its replacement by a "People's Government" based on a "broad people's front of toilers". Perhaps in deference to Germany, it denied that a Soviet regime ought to be set up (yet) or that Finland should join the USSR. It called for "Immediate peace, the conclusion of a Soviet-Finnish pact of mutual assistance, annexation by Finland of Soviet Karelia, the creation of a People's Army" and a host of domestic reforms, such as the eight-hour working day—already in effect since 1917...

    Sure enough, the next day, December 1, 1939, a "People's Government of the Democratic Republic of Finland" was proclaimed—allegedly in the liberated village of Terijoki near the Soviet border on the Karelian Isthmus. "Mr." Otto W. Kuusinen was chairman and foreign minister, with a cabinet of half a dozen Finnish nobodies. Its program was published the next day by Tass, again as "received" and "translated" in Moscow from an unknown radio transmitter in Terijoki. The nine-point program followed the same lines as the preceding day's call by the Finnish Communist Party. Yet as John Scott, a Western correspondent in Moscow noted:

    There was no radio station in Terijoki which could have broadcast the declaration of the new government; Kuusinen had not been in Finland in two decades.

    Kuusinen had been minister of education in the short-lived Finnish Soviet Republic, January-March 1918; upon its collapse he and several thousand Finns had fled to Russia. He did not return to Finland for the rest of his life (unless, mayhap, to Terijoki). It is he, together with Zhdanov and the self-deluded Soviet minister to Finland, Vladimir Derevyansky, who are generally credited with having given Stalin the crazy advice that Finnish workers would rally within days to the Red cause.

    No such thing happened. Russia was Finland's hereditary enemy. Tuominen and the Finnish Communist Party had gagged at the Kuusinen scheme. Former Red Guards were seeking to enlist in Finland's defense. The country reunited as never before. The "Democratic Republic of Finland" was a mockery; it prompted an emigre Russian suggestion that Trotsky and Kerensky be invited to establish a provisional government in Finland.

    The Kuusinen government, as Alexander Werth snickered, "was going from strength to strength". Born on December 1, this "Democratic Republic of Finland" on December 2 signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance and Friendship with the Soviet Union. It was published the next day in Pravda, together with a front-page photograph of Kuusinen signing while Molotov, Zhdanov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Stalin watched. The treaty not only embodied all of Stalin's original demands, but also reunited to Finland much of the ethnically related area of Soviet Karelia—nearly half of the Karelian Soviet Republic—heretofore an unthinkable thought in Russia. This bestowal was intended to be the biggest sweetener of all in the treaty, but the document proved as much of a dud as the Terijoki government itself.

    The Mutual Assistance Treaty had promised ratification "in the shortest possible time in … Helsinki." It seems clear from all accounts that the USSR expected a waltz-in once the war began. At the outset, the Soviet press said the Red Army would reach Helsinki within ten days. Even that was a conservative estimate, as Stalin and others were said to have thought the episode would take only three days to a week at the most. A Soviet official in Berlin told William Shirer that "it will be all over in three days". Mannerheim reported that early in the war Russian orders had been captured warning Red Army soldiers not to violate the Swedish frontier. According to another account, "In some sectors Soviet troops marched over the border with flags fluttering and brass bands playing, as though envisaging a popular welcome". On December 15, the Russian-speaking Baltic correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor wrote that Russian POWs
    "had been totally unprepared for real war. "Our political commissar told us," they said, "that we would be in Helsinki by December 21, Stalin's birthday." The Red Army, we were told, planned to make Stalin a birthday present of Finland."

    And, as "Khrushchev remembers,"
    "All we had to do was raise our voice a little bit, and the Finns would obey. If that didn't work, we could fire one shot and the Finns would put up their hands and surrender. Or so we thought… . Like everyone else I was confident that our advantage would prove immeasurable and that our dispute with the Finns would be solved quickly, without many casualties for us. So we thought, and so we hoped."

    For two months the Kremlin simply refused to deal with the "Mannerheim-Tanner clique"; they had a very cooperative arrangement with "Mr." Kuusinen. Peace talks with the "Finnish White Guards" could not even be considered. Nevertheless, Tanner kept up a diplomatic campaign to restore communication with Moscow, through the United States, Sweden, and Germany. With Molotov playing incommunicado, Finland turned to the moribund League of Nations, and for what it was worth, the League's dying act was to expel the Soviet Union on December 14. Molotov refused to attend the Geneva proceedings on the ground that the USSR was at peace with the Democratic Republic of Finland. Then Tanner appealed directly to Molotov in a December 15 radio broadcast urging a resumption of negotiations, but there was no response.

    Publicly, Moscow backed the Kussinen government to the very end. On February 26, Komsomol'skaya Pravda had said there would be no deal with Helsinki and that the Soviet Union was aiming for complete victory of the Kuusinen government. As late as March 7, the (U.S. Communist) Daily Worker had an eight-column, page-one feature spread in praise of the Terijoki government, drawing in turn from the March 1 issue of Kansan Valta, the newspaper of the People's Government. On March 8, with the Moscow talks already underway, "Kansan Valta published an appeal to the Finnish people 'to turn their backs on the Mannerheims and Tanners' who were 'doomed to extinction' ". Also on March 8, Komsomol'skaya Pravda reprinted a similar long article by Kuusinen "in which he boasted that the 'bankrupt government of Mannerheim, Ryti, and Tanner is on its way to the bottom. Its days are numbered'". Even on March 10—two days before the peace—Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star, the army paper) printed an editorial noting the "exceptionally great significance" of the Soviet Union's treaties with the Baltics and the "Finnish Democratic Republic". People's Government propaganda broadcasts had been briefly suspended when the Finnish delegation arrived in Moscow on March 7, but suddenly resumed on March 10: "'Comrades,' the Moscow radio broadcast in Finnish, 'lay down your arms and join the Kuusinen People's Army'".

    The Treaty of Moscow was a dictated peace. From the start the Soviet representatives made it clear that there could be no concessions and no haggling. They took the line that Finland was fortunate to be let off so lightly, and that if the terms were not accepted at once, any future settlement would be harsher. If the Finnish government tried to fight on, it was made clear that the Soviet government was prepared to proceed with the total conquest of Finland, and the imposition of Kuusinen's government.


    The moral is drawn most explicitly by John H. Wuorinen, who writes:
    There is no doubt but that the USSR intended to crush Finland once and for all—Molotov had made that clear in Berlin—and that annexation would have been carried through if the Finns had not fought appears certain. That independence was saved by fighting is equally clear.


    The Soviets intended far more than an adjustment of the borders.
     
  11. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    GS, with respect, none of what you wrote in post 29 is inconsistent with the premise that Soviet goals at their essence were limited in nature to border adjustments and the deferential position that Finland adopted postwar.

    Soviet era, especially Stalinist, diplomacy and propaganda was heavy handed, bombastic and lacking in nuance and subtlety. It is quite understandable that Moscow would present the consequences of further resistance in the direst terms possible both to frighten the Finn's and to motivate their own people. The essence of Gunboat diplomacy is to imply the worst, while doing the least.

    Was there someone in the Kremlin or STAVKA that pushed the idea that with a little push the Finnish government would fall like a house of cards and embrace a soviet style government? Probably, but I still see no strong evidence it was the prevalent view of these organs. Nor have I heard a convincing argument for why they settled for less than 'they wanted' when you state that the peace treaty terms was dictated and imposed by Moscow without Finland having any say in them.

    Stalin never showed much concern on how many Red Army soldiers fell to achieve their goals, so that can't be it. The best Finnish defenses had been breached, Summer (ideal campaign weather) was on the brink and the capital Helsinki was within striking distance, so fear of Finnish resistance can't be it. As noted good weather was on the cusp and a massive clash between Nazi Germany and the Western Allies was expected and would drown out public interest in any other event, so fear of becoming a international pariah can't be it.

    Then in 1944 they get another chance to eliminate Finland and set up a soviet style state, as they did with all of Hitler's allies, yet again chose not to do so. I simply can not bring myself to believe that the complete destruction of Finland was ever their primary goal or even a serious one.

    It is almost like saying Britain signed a peace treaty in 1814 with the US because of the Battle of New Orleans.

    I take nothing away from the people and soldiers of Finland in either war, they did everything they could and often more than they could be expected to do preserve their independence.
     
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  12. green slime

    green slime Member

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    It was in Soviet best interests to reach a conclusion, before the involvement of Britain and France. Everyone, it seems, except the Nazis, had a hyperinflated opinion of what the Western Allies could do.

    In 1940, highly remarkable, that the peace treaty was announced within 24 hours of the ships leaving Britain for FInland.

    In 1944; there is significant benefit to having the Finns chase the Germans out of the country, as opposed to fighting both the Finns and the Germans in Finland, an arena not exactly conducive to defeating Germany.

    The concessions demanded of the Finns in '44, basically meant Finland was not a free state wrt to their international position; they were required to pay a huge fee, required to accept trade, and purchase Soviet goods, required to maintain strict neutrality, required to restrict border access, required to give up the best territory (arable land in the South, mines in the North), the second largest city,.... All without Russia not having to do one iota more.
     
  13. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Actually German leadership thought the 1940 campaign would be much harder than it was.

    The thing is Finland could not know that that sailing was underway, or that it would be recalled. They probably knew neither Norway or Sweden was going to co-operate with Anglo-French troops crossing their borders and involving them in a war. They probably did know that the Allies primary interest was stopping ore shipments getting to Germany and not aiding them since the force remained together and actually did make it to Norway weeks after the peace treaty was signed.

    I'm not sure anyone has accused the Soviets of doing things the easy way before on the Eastern Front, but for all they gained in the 1944 treaty they lost the chance of creating the first Communist State in Scandinavia. The treaty, while harsh, was a sweet mothers kiss compared to those inflicted on Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. One more campaign would likely give them Finland's Largest city and possibly a full capitulation of organized forces. Following German forces into Norway would give the SU a valid pretext for a pretense the North Sea area, perhaps as far south as Narvik.

    It is inconsistent to argue that the Soviet Union was both warmongering invader and thoughtful geo-political player twice in the span of 4 years in two different conflicts with the same nation. On the grand scale of things Hitler was a master criminal, Stalin a petty thief.
     
  14. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Yes, we know that the Germans anticipated a harder struggle, but that didn't cause the Germans to pause...

    The Finns were informed that they were coming, and strongly encouraged not to seek peace. But it matters not what the Finns knew or thought in this case; what matters, is the influence it had on Soviet decision making; get as good a deal as you can now, before things start to get out of hand.

    Fact remains; the Soviets goals for '39 were seen in the orders found on dead officers during the initial push. Nothing less than the occupation of the whole of Finland. And with the puppet government already in hand, their intent is clear.

    On March 31, 1940, the Supreme Soviet established the Karelian-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic as a twelfth union republic of the USSR, including the newly won territories. On July 10, it elected as president Otto W. Kuusinen. The Finns themselves were under no false illusions as to what this implied for their future. When in November '40 Molotov went to Berlin he sought from Hitler their response were the Soviets to apply the "Bessarabian solution" to Finland: annexation. By this time, of course, Germany was itself in a different position entirely, and wouldn't hear of it. Indeed, the German patience with the pact had worn more than a little thin....

    In '44 the Soviets did indeed chase the Germans into Northern Norway. They did not go beyond the river Tana. But that is well into Norwegian territory. And this was done in the Autumn of '44. Offensive operations by the Soviets were halted on the 13th of November.

    And for good reason. Most roads were impassible in Winter there, and even today, many are closed for the winter. So thereafter, the liberation of Norway was carried out by armed Norwegians, with the assistance of the RN. Many Norwegian volunteers were armed by the Soviets.

    By the time Spring arrives, the whole war was over.

    The Soviets stayed until 25th September, 1945.
     
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  15. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    It's not as if Germany had many options otherwise.....

    These saviors were the same ones who guaranteed Poland as well? Getting out of hand? Things were finally going the Soviet's way.

    With respect I have not seen these orders, and in any event faked orders for propaganda effect are not unheard of.

    Does it really matter what they called their newly won province, or who they put in charge, it was all for show anyway and it replaced the pseudo alternate Finnish government. Whatever the Finn's thought it may imply, it didn't did it even though they joined Germany co-belligerent in 1941? Why would Molotov need German approval for a Bessarabian solution when they had already enacted it months earlier?

    Now your moving goal posts, you claimed before Russian needed/wanted Finnish help to chase German's out of Finland, now they did it themselves. Not saying moving into Norway is easy, just saying its possible and the exact date for VE-day could not be known.

    How long did the Allies occupy Germany? Seems the Finn's caught a break here too.
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Not at all.

    Russia wanted (and got) the Finns to chase the Germans out of Finland. Russia invaded Norway. The two are not mutually exclusive concepts.
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Haha I don't need Kai here to know what happened. There are books for this which I have been acquainted with. I have also had the pleasure of knowing Kai for quite some time, years actually. ;)

    No huge losses either and it wasn't Russia but Finland that accepted the terms....
     
  18. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    The truth is: Lenin and Stalin tried at least 3 times to recapture Finnland, which they regarded for some strange reasons as part of their empire. They failed every time and revealed themselves as selfish, ruthless, greedy, dishonest but completely incompetent.
    The Red Army disgraced itself and the whole world supported Finnland.

    A debacle for Stalin only comparable to Afghanistan 40 years later.
     
  19. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    It was Lenin that granted Finland independence with a stroke of a pen..... When did he try to conquer it?
     
  20. patriceXXI

    patriceXXI New Member

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    Different geography and conduct of warfare

    they opted to discontinue the war with Finland after the stiff resistance at narva where they lost 100k-200k troops and area for launching air attacks. In addition to the fact that the US viewed Finland's case with more empathy considering the winter war and the precarious situation they were forced into. They also had a Reich to defeat.

    they wanted a finnish ssr
     

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