80 years ago, on March 12, 1940, the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed, which ended the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. Russia returned part of Karelia and Vyborg, lost as a result of the collapse of the Russian Empire. Stalin solved the problem of strengthening the defense of the northern capital – Leningrad.
Moscow’s attempts to stop the war with Finland
Throughout the Winter War, Moscow made efforts to bring Helsinki to reason and resolve the conflict peacefully. The Stalinist government reacted positively to the very first peaceful probe undertaken by the Finnish government through the writer H. Vuolioki. On January 8, 1940, she had a conversation with the Soviet plenipotentiary in Stockholm A. M. Kollontai about the beginning of peace negotiations with the aim of settling the Soviet-Finnish conflict.
Moscow accepted the offer from Sweden, which expressed its desire to take on the role of mediator in order to facilitate an unofficial Soviet-Finnish exchange of views on the peace agreement. On January 29, 1940, a statement was sent to the Swedish Foreign Minister H.E. Gunther, which stated that the Soviet Union, in principle, did not object to the conclusion of peace with Helsinki, but before the start of peace negotiations, it wanted to know what concessions the Finns were ready to make.
However, unofficial Soviet-Finnish contacts were complicated by the policies of Britain and France. Western democracies at that time did everything to drag out the Soviet-Finnish war. London and Paris decided to attack the USSR (How the West was preparing a “crusade” against the USSR). Finland was actively supplied with weapons and ammunition. Arms and ammunition were also supplied to the Finns by the United States. The Americans also helped Helsinki financially by providing a loan to buy weapons. In Scandinavia, to help the Finnish army, they were preparing to land an Anglo-French expeditionary force. Also, the Westerners were preparing an attack on the USSR in the Caucasus (a blow to the oil fields). On the southern flank, the West planned to involve Turkey and the USSR in the war.
In addition, the Finnish army has not yet been defeated. It seemed that the war was dragging on. Under these conditions, Helsinki was in no hurry to start peace talks. On the contrary, the Finns were looking for an opportunity to continue the war. Finnish Foreign Minister Tanner visited Stockholm three times in February 1940 and asked Sweden to send 30,000 volunteers for help. body. Sweden has already provided Finland with all kinds of military assistance, supplied weapons and ammunition. Did not prevent thousands of volunteers from fighting on the side of Finland. The issue of the passage of the Anglo-French troops through the territory of Sweden to Finland was also resolved. Therefore, the Finnish government of Ryti was playing for time and invited Moscow to inform the Soviet peace terms.
Moscow understood Helsinki’s game very well. The Soviet side again took the initiative and announced its peaceful conditions on February 23, 1940 through Kollontai. At the same time, Moscow turned to the British government with a request to transfer these conditions to the Finns and to take on the role of mediator in establishing Soviet-Finnish negotiations. The Soviet government thus tried to neutralize the attempts of the British to drag out the war. On February 24, London refused to take on the role of mediator.
Meeting of the Red Army units, returning from the Karelian Isthmus, at the Kirov Bridge (currently Trinity Bridge) in Leningrad. March 30, 1940
Meanwhile, the situation on the Soviet-Finnish front has radically changed. In February 1940, the Red Army broke through the main strip of the Mannerheim Line. The Finnish army was defeated and could no longer offer serious resistance. On March 4, the commander-in-chief of the Finnish army, Mannerheim, reported to the government that the troops in the Karelian direction were in a critical situation. Helsinki, deprived of the opportunity to further drag out the war and wait for help from Britain and France, expressed its readiness to enter into peace negotiations.
The Ryti government informed Kollontai that, in principle, it accepts the conditions of the USSR, considering them as the basis for negotiations. However, under pressure from London and Paris, the Finnish government, instead of sending a delegation to Moscow for negotiations, on March 4 asked Moscow to clarify the passage of the new Soviet-Finnish border and the amount of compensation that Finland could receive from the USSR for the ceded territories. On March 6, the Soviet government again invited Helsinki to send a delegation to conduct peace negotiations. This time Finland agreed and sent a delegation led by Ryti. The first official meeting of the Soviet and Finnish delegations on the issue of concluding a peace treaty was held on March 7, 1940. After listening to the Soviet proposals, the Finnish side asked for time to consult with Helsinki.
Meanwhile, the West again made it clear to Helsinki that it is ready to support Finland. The head of the British government, Chamberlain, speaking in parliament, said that Britain and France would continue to support Finland. London and Paris reminded Helsinki that if Helsinki wished, then the Anglo-French expeditionary force would be sent immediately, Norway and Sweden would not be asked any more. However, the problem was that the Finns could no longer fight. Finland’s martial law demanded an immediate peace.
Leningraders on the Liteiny Bridge meet a column of OT-130 tanks (a flamethrower tank based on the T-26 tank) returning from the Karelian Isthmus. March 30, 1940
Solemn welcome of the Red Army soldiers from the units that returned from the Karelian Isthmus
Vyborg is our
The negotiations ended on March 12, 1940 with the conclusion of a peace treaty between the USSR and Finland. On behalf of the Soviet state, it was signed by Prime Minister (SNK) Vyacheslav Molotov, member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Andrei Zhdanov and representative of the General Staff Alexander Vasilevsky. On behalf of Finland, the agreement was signed by: Prime Minister Risto Ryti, Minister Juho Paasikivi, General Headquarters Karl Walden, Member of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Parliament V. Vojonmaa.
According to the Moscow Treaty, the Karelian Isthmus with Vyborg, Vyborg Bay was transferred to the Soviet Union; a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland; the western and northern shores of Lake Ladoga with the cities of Kexholm, Sortavala, Suoyarvi, as a result, the entire lake was completely within the borders of the USSR; part of the Finnish territory with the city of Kuolajärvi, part of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas. Moscow received a lease of a part of the Hanko (Gangut) Peninsula with adjoining islands for a period of 30 years (the annual rent was 8 million marks) to create a naval base on it, protecting the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. Finland pledged not to keep armed vessels with a displacement of more than 400 tons in the Barents Sea and to have no more than 15 armed vessels there for defense. The Finns were forbidden to have a submarine fleet and military aircraft in the North. Also, Finland could not create military and naval bases, other military installations in the North. Both sides pledged to refrain from attacking each other, not to enter into alliances and not to join coalitions directed against one of the contracting parties. True, the Finns soon violated this point, becoming allies of Nazi Germany.
In the economic part of the treaty, Soviet Russia was granted the right of free transit through the Petsamo (Pechenga) region to Norway and back. At the same time, the goods were exempted from customs control and were not subject to duties. Soviet citizens and aircraft had the right of free passage and overflight through Petsamo to Norway. Finland granted the Soviet side the right to transit goods to Sweden. In order to create the shortest railway route for transit from Russia to Sweden, Moscow and Helsinki pledged to build part of the railway, each on its own territory, to connect the Soviet city of Kandalaksha with the Finnish city of Kemijärvi. The road was planned to be built in 1940.
Additionally, on October 11, 1940, an agreement on the Aland Islands was signed between the USSR and Finland in Moscow. The Finnish side pledged to demilitarize the Aland Islands, not to build fortifications there and not to provide them for the military forces of other countries. Moscow received the right to maintain its consulate on the Aland Islands to check the implementation of the agreement.
Thus, the Stalinist government, on the eve of the war with the Reich, resolved the issue of increasing the defensive capacity of Leningrad – the second capital of the USSR, the largest industrial and cultural center of the country. It is possible that it was the transfer of the border from Leningrad that saved the city from its capture by the Nazis and Finns during the Great Patriotic War. Moscow returned the lands of Karelia and Vyborg, which belonged to the Russian Empire and transferred to the Grand Duchy of Finland when it was part of the Russian state. The Soviet Union secured the only railway to Murmansk. The Gulf of Finland actually turned into the internal sea of our state.
The war showed Stalin the real state of affairs in the army and aviation, their readiness for hostilities with a serious enemy. The Armed Forces, despite all the successes in increasing the country’s defense capability in recent years, were still “raw”. It took a lot of work on bugs.
The victory in the war with Finland strengthened the position of the USSR in Eastern Europe. Small border states, previously hostile to the USSR, were forced to moderate their ambitions and make concessions. So, in the summer of 1940, Russia, without a war, returned to its composition the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Also in the summer of 1940, Moscow, without a war, returned Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the USSR. Romania had to yield.
Residents of Leningrad greet the tankers of the 20th heavy tank brigade returning from the Karelian Isthmus to their place of permanent deployment. In the photo there is a 1938 car. April 1940