“If we compare the Winter War [Stalin conducted against Finland] and the Russian “special operation” in Ukraine [Putin is carrying out now]says Moscow historian Boris Sokolov, “the similarities” in expectations, conduct and highly likely outcomes “are striking”.
In a detailed commentary for The insider, Sokolov provides case after case in which what Stalin expected, did, and then was forced to accept anticipates to an astonishing degree the same situation Putin finds himself in today. The details are interesting, but it is the conclusions that are critical (theins.ru/history/249528).
“In 1939,” writes the historian from Moscow, “the USSR started a war with Finland, the scenario of which now surprisingly resembles the invasion of Ukraine. The war with Finland was also to be a blitzkrieg fast, the success of which was ensured by the overwhelming superiority of the armed forces of the USSR.
“The war in Finland, he continues, was also presented as self-defense and a response to provocations. Propaganda also spoke of the benefits of the invasion for the civilian population, and the USSR also planned to install a puppet government in Finland.
“Finally, this war, also ill-prepared, ended in total failure, the troops suffering from lack of supplies and frostbite, being poorly motivated and suffering much higher losses. Finally, the USSR gave up the conquest of Finland and was limited to insignificant territorial gains.
This precedent is likely to be on the minds of many in the Russian capital, including Putin’s, given the Kremlin leader’s admiration for many things Stalin did.