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The Red Army in Finland

LAURENCE REES: Stalin then wanted to take territory from the Finnish, and the Red Army then performs very badly in this fight. Why?

ROBERT SERVICE: The Red Army had been motorized and it had been, in many ways, modernised, but not completely, and it still had at its apex some of the old, unreconstructed, pre-modern leadership that Stalin had inherited from the 1920s. It was also an army that had been battered by the great terror of 1937 to 1938, so it was in a certain amount of chaos, and some of the equipment that was to be used in 1941 had not yet been brought into operation in 1939 to 1940. And another thing that was important was that the Soviet forces thought they would win easily and they underestimated Finnish national resistance. So for all of those reasons, leadership, equipment, overconfidence and chaotic organisation, the Red Army did appallingly badly in the winter war of 1939 to 1940 and this gave further confidence to Adolf Hitler that when the time came it would be easy to roll over the Red Army.