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A Finnish of it

In 1940, after a long brutal war that was expected to take a fortnight, the Soviet Union emerged victorious from the Russo-Finnish War.  The soviets wanted the war over as quickly as possible and did not press their advantage on the Finns, who had practically run out of fighting power. 

Quite why Stalin stopped the offensive at that point is unknown.  Apologists for the USSR have tended to state that all Stalin wanted was extra border space for the defence of Leningrad.  Apologists for Stalin himself have suggested that he was appalled by the possibility of having to fight a prolonged greualla war on Finnish territory.  More practical writers have noted that Stalin probably was concerned about becoming embroiled with the Nazis and the British.  Without a time machine, we’ll probably never know. 

What is clear is that Stalin had Finland at his mercy.  The soviet troops were well supplied.  The Finns had run out of most of their supplies and they desperately needed a break in the fighting.  There were sound strategic reasons to conquer Finland…is it such a stretch with a TL that has such a conquest?

Let’s have Stalin press the offensive to Helsinki.  The remains of the Finnish Troops in the vicinity, led by Mannerheim in person, fight in the streets and die as thousands of civilians flee to Sweden.  The remaining Finnish troops go underground and hide out in the forests.  Stalin places the Finnish communists he’s recruited in official power, but real power lies with the soviet commander. 

The outside world is horrified.  The refugees have been spreading stories about soviet atrocities.  The US government is put under pressure to support the Finns, but there is very little they can practically do at once.  The Swedes quietly ship in weapons to the resistance, and work to build up their own forces.  FDR grants them a loan.  Both the Turks and the Swedes have also begun to move closer to Germany, as well as quiet discussion of a Norwegian/Sweden alliance.  The British and French work on their crazy plan to bomb Baku, but the Turks refuse to cooperate unless the allies station large numbers of ground troops in the area.  The Italians sell the Turks and anyone else who’s interested weapons. 

Norway and Sweden go into total war mode – start buying weapons, open lines of credit from US, prepare for an invasion at any moment.  US routes weapons meant for Finland to them, freezes Finnish asserts in US to prevent USSR from getting what little there is of them, hands them over to exile government. 

The chances are that Hitler does not risk Norway in this TL.  The USSR might be temped to jump on Hitler’s back and most of the German forces are concentrated against France.  Hitler launches the invasion of France pretty much as planned and defeats France quickly.  Events proceed as OTL until Barbarossa. 

Hitler’s invasion of the USSR is a bit different in this TL.  The Germans have made contact with the Finnish resistance and have been encouraging them to revolt at the time of the invasion.  Further, it is politically difficult for the British or the Americans to send lead lease to the USSR with a powerful Finnish Lobby demanding that the soviets guarantee Finnish independence.  The Polish lobby is also demanding the same deal for Poland.  People don’t trust the USSR as much as they did in OTL.

The soviets muff it, pretty much as they did in OTL, and with a less sympathetic population.  They make vague promises that don’t satisfy anyone, even Churchill.  The net result is a far weaker Red Army after the battle of Moscow.  Most of the lend lease that does not go to Russia ends up in Britain or China, making a far stronger Britain.  The Red Army has fewer trucks, radios and other supplies.  It is nowhere near as manoverable as OTLs.  The Germans manage to escape Stalingrad. 

Stalin is realistic enough to know that he needs allied help.  On the other hand, if he promises independent nations and then goes back on his word, the allies might not commit to a long war to evict him.  However, Stalin has good figures for the US’s production and it scares him, not to mention the atomic bomb project. 

FDR is also concerned.  The US has entered the war and is building up to take on both Germany and Japan.  If Stalin makes peace with Germany, however, they’ll probably be able to reassert their control over Finland and that will weaken FDR’s position.  The US has been quietly supplying Sweden with weapons for the Finns, but the Finns can’t keep the armoured Red Army out of Finland without far more help. 

FDR proposes a deal.  The Soviets will withdraw completely from Finland now.  The Swedes will move in some units as ‘peacekeepers’ and they’ll be backed up by some US airpower.  Stalin agrees to that, but balks at the idea of a free Poland.  Allies give him an ultimation.  Stalin abandons Finland, but gives only vague promises on Poland.  Polish exiles unimpressed – FDR is forced to demand firm guarantees. 

Stalin breaks with west, attempts to reoccupy Finland.  Some shooting between Swedes and Soviet troops, US ships in a division, threatens war.  Stalin tries to make a separate peace with Hitler; Hitler demands they cede Poland and part of the Ukraine, also guaranteed shipments of strategic goods.  Peace formally signed in early 1944. 

USSR attacks Japanese rear in Manchuria, overruns Japanese there, heads into Korea.  Japan sues for peace with US, peace signed under harsh terms.  Stalin annexes the occupied territory, gets into shooting matches with both Chinese factions.  US warns Stalin to get out or else – Stalin refuses.  US starts equipping both Chinese factions, occupies Japan. 

Hitler launches offensive against allied positions in Italy.  Germans do well at first, but then bog down under allied air power and superior numbers.  Large numbers of Italians serve with allies.  British launch probes into Greece and the Balkans, trying to erode the German position there.  Germans fight bitterly at the end of poor supply lines.  Allies launch D-Day as the fighting gets tougher, get a grip on the continent, but stall as Germans bring in divisions from the eastern front. 

Soviets threaten war against the US/UK.  Reinforces occupied Iran, bullies British troops.  British ship new divisions from Britain, weakening D-Day forces needed to reinforce France.  Stalin declares war, launches all out attack into Iran.  British troops fight bravely, but can’t stop the soviet tanks until they run out of fuel.  British have air superiority from bases in Iraq, soviets launch raids against them, massacre British airmen when a base is overrun.  Soviets set up puppet governments and prepare for an invasion of India. 



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