1. Did the Soviet Union launch the Winter War because of its own national security?
Some people reckon that because the Finish border is too close to the second largest city of Leningrad of the Soviet Union, affecting the safety of the city, so the Soviet Union claimed territory of Finland and it only started the war after the failure of diplomatic negotiations. At that time, the Soviet Union had 170 million people and 5 million troops, which was the number of Soviet troops merely in peacetime. Finland had a total of only 3.5 million people and was unlikely to pose any threat to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union argued that troops from other countries may pass through Finland. Let’s analyze that step by step. The Soviet Union proposed firstly the need to guard against attacks from Britain and France. But Britain and France had no requirement for Soviet territory they were far away. They did have any reason to send troops there. The Soviet Union then further proposed to prevent attacks from Germany. We now know that after the Soviet Union attacked Finland only after it and Germany had determined their spheres of influence. Therefore, this argument is more self-deception. Consequently, we can conclude that the Soviet offensive in Finland was simply because it attempted to reoccupy the areas originally controlled by the Russian Empire. Despite of Finland’s declaration of neutrality, the Soviet Union considered it a golden opportunity to annex the region after Germany had agreed to carry out the annexation while Britain and France could hardly look after themselves.
2. Who actually won the Winter War?
To determine which warring party wins the war, we need to know their warring purposes. The purpose of the Soviet Union was to annex Finland. They established of a puppet government on the first day of the war, intending to replace the original Finnish government. Finland’s aim was to survive. The final outcome of the war was that the Soviet Union obtained only 10% of the territory of Finland. Finish succeeded in keep the independence of their country. The Soviet Union appeared to have reached its officially propagandized purpose, but it completely fail to achive the actual goal. Furthermore, Soviet lost huge in various aspects. It was expelled from the League of Nations, resulting to more isolated diplomatic relationship. Military incompetence led to contempt from its allies. Finland, however, basically achieved its war objectives. Thus, despite of the loss of some Finnish territories, it could be considered as a strategic victory.
3. What can we learn from the Winter War?
At first, results of the war reveal that nothing is impossible. According to analysis of the situation before the war, the probability of continued independent existence of Finland was almost zero. But Finland successfully survived. Secondly, to survive, you first need to fight on your own. Although Finland was widely supported by public opinions, it did not receive any substantial aids. Ultimately it survived but entirely the result of a military contest.
4. Finland mobilized 10% of the population to participate in the war. It is almost the most successful military mobilization during World War II with number and efficiency even better than those of Germany and Japan.
5. The Finish army had only more than 30 tanks while tanks put into the war by the Soviet Union army were about 3000-6000.
6. The Finnish army had 150-300 aircrafts while over 3000 aircrafts were put into combat by the Soviet Union.
7. Finland because of the war joined the German operations against the Soviet Union and hoped to regain the lost territory.
8. Hitler because of the war quite despised the military force of the Soviet Union, which made it finally launched the plan of the invasion of Barbarossa of the Soviet Union.
9. The war exposed the problem of the Allies. Although the Allies intended to support Finland, the reaction was very slow and operational objectives were not quite sure, highlighting military inefficiencies of the Allied.
10. This unbalanced war lasted more than three months with the overall casualties of up to 400,000 while casualties during the Battle of Poland were only 260,000 people. Casualties of the Battle of France were 520,000. But in the Winter War military forces put into by the two sides were less than 1.5 million. The total military strength of both the two sides in the Polish campaign was 3 million people. In the French campaign, the number reached a staggering 7 million people. Therefore, there were a high proportion of casualties in the Winter War, especially in the Soviet Union’s army, almost one third, which revealed that the extent of the brutality of the Winter War was much more than any other wars in the same period.