The Soviet invasion of Manchuria
or Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation (Russian: Ð¡Ð¾Ð²ÐµÑ‚ÑÐºÐ¾-ÑÐ¿Ð¾Ð½ÑÐºÐ°Ñ Ð²Ð¾Ð¹Ð½Ð°)
Began on August 9, 1945,
with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. The Soviets conquered Mengjiang, as well as northern Korea, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands
The operation was carried out as a classic double pincer movement over an area the size of Western Europe. In the western pincer, the Red Army advanced over the deserts and mountains from Mongolia, far from their resupply railways. This confounded the Japanese military analysis of Soviet logistics, and the defenders were caught by surprise in unfortified positions. The Japanese commander was missing for the first eighteen hours of conflict, and communication was lost with forward units very early on. At the same time, Soviet airborne units were used to seize airfields and city centers in advance of the land forces, and to ferry fuel to those units that had outrun their supply lines.
After a week of fighting, during which Soviet forces were already penetrating deep into Manchukuo, Japan's Emperor Hirohito read the Gyokuon-hÅsÅ on August 15, 1945 and declared a ceasefire in the region the next day. The Soviets continued their largely unopposed advance, reaching Mukden, Changchun and Qiqihar by August 20. On the Soviet right flank, the Soviet-Mongolian Cavalry-Mechanized Group had entered Inner Mongolia and quickly took Dolon Nur and Kalgan. The Emperor of Manchukuo (and former Emperor of China), Puyi, was captured by the Soviet Red Army.
On August 18, several amphibious landings had been conducted ahead of the land advance: three in northern Korea, one in Sakhalin, and one in the Kuril Islands. This meant that, in Korea at least, there would already be Soviet soldiers waiting for the troops coming overland. In Sakhalin and the Kurils, it meant a sudden and undeniable establishment of Soviet sovereignty.
The land advance was stopped a good distance short of the Yalu River, the beginning of the Korean peninsula, when even the aerial supply lines became unavailable. The forces already in Korea were able to establish a bit of control in the peninsula's north, but the ambition to take the entire peninsula was cut short when American forces landed at Incheon on September 8, six days after the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
Importance and consequences
The Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation, along with the two atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined to break the Japanese political deadlock and force Japan's surrender; they made it clear that Japan had no hope of holding out, even in the Home Islands.
Japan's decision to surrender was made before the scale of the Soviet attack on Manchuria, Sakhalin, and the Kurils was known, but had the war continued, the Soviets had plans to invade HokkaidÅ well before the other Allied invasion of Kyushu.
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's research has led him to conclude that the atomic bombings were not the principal reason for capitulation. Instead, he contends, it was the swift and devastating Soviet victories on the mainland in the week following Joseph Stalin's August 8 declaration of war that forced the Japanese message of surrender on August 15, 1945 His claim, however, has been criticized because it ignores the fact that the Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo knew that a full-scale invasion had begun but were unaware of how badly the fighting in Manchuria was going.
Manchuria, cleansed of any potential military resistance by Soviet forces, provided the main base of operations for Mao Zedong's forces, who proved victorious in the following four years of civil war in China. In fact, military success in Manchuria prevented the Soviet Union from receiving bases in China â€” promised by the Western Allies â€” because all land gained was turned over to the People's Republic of China after they gained power. Before leaving Manchuria, however, Soviet forces dismantled its considerable industry and relocated it to restore industry in war-torn Soviet territory.
As agreed at Yalta, the Soviet Union had intervened in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender, and they were therefore entitled to the territories of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands and also to preeminent interests over Port Arthur and Dalian, with its strategic rail connections. The territories on the Asian mainland were transferred to the full control of the People's Republic of China in 1955, and the other possessions are still administered by the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia. Though the north of the Korean peninsula was under Soviet control, the logistic machine driving the invasion forces had given out before the entire peninsula could be seized. With the American landing at Incheon â€” some time before the Red Army could have remobilized and secured the entire nation â€” Korea was effectively divided. This was a precursor to the Korean War five years later.