The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939–1940.
It began with the Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939 (three months after the outbreak of World War II), and ended with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League on 14 December 1939.The Soviet Union ostensibly sought to claim parts of Finnish territory, demanding—amongst other concessions—that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons, primarily the protection of Leningrad, which was only 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border.Finland refused and the USSR invaded the country. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocols as proof of this, while other sources argue against this idea of a full Soviet conquest.
The Soviets possessed more than three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks.
The Red Army, however, had been crippled by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937. With more than 30,000 of its officers executed or imprisoned, including most of those of the highest ranks, the Red Army in 1939 had many inexperienced senior and mid-level officers. Because of these factors, and high morale in the Finnish forces, Finland repelled Soviet attacks for several months, much longer than the Soviets expected.
However, after reorganization and adoption of different tactics, the renewed Soviet offensive overcame Finnish defenses at the borders. Finland then agreed to cede more territory than originally demanded by the Soviet Union in 1939; the Soviets, having conquered the areas they demanded from Finland but at a cost of heavier losses in troops than anticipated, accepted this offer.
Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded territory representing 11% of its land area and 30% of its economy to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country's international reputation suffered. While the Soviet Union did not conquer all Finland, Soviet gains somewhat exceeded their pre-war demands. They gained substantial territory along Lake Ladoga, providing a buffer for Leningrad, and territory in northern Finland. Finland retained its sovereignty and enhanced its international reputation.
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