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Siege of Vladivostok
Part of World War II
Date Spring 1939 - Spring 1940
Location Soviet Union, Vladivostok
Result Japanese victory
Belligerents
SovietSoviet Union JapanEmpire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
600px-Coat of arms of the Soviet Union.svg???Whiteflag IJA Flag???
The Siege of Vladivostok was the longest siege of the 20th century, and the biggest military battle undertaken by elements of the Japanese Army and Navy, during their war with the Soviets. The siege lasted an entire year, from the spring of 1939, until the spring of 1940, when the Soviet commander finally surrendered.

BackgroundEdit

Throughout the 1930s, the Soviet Far Eastern Army skirmished with the Kwantung Army along their borders in Siberia, Mongolia, and even Korea. The Japanese Army always saw the Soviet Union as its prime enemy, and looked north to annex Siberia for the Emperor. However, all knew that dominance of the provinces wouldn't be possible unless they accomplished two things: cut the Trans-Siberian railroad, and; neutralize Vladivostok, the most important port city for the Soviet Union on the Pacific. If these two objectives could be met, Japan would dominate Siberia without Russian interference.

The CampaignEdit

The Invasion of SiberiaEdit

As the Soviet Army plunged into northern Poland, the Poles proved a difficult adversary, stopping their invasion dead. As the Soviets floundered about in confusion, the Kwangtung Army smelt blood in the air. With the Soviets bogged down in Poland, they launched a full-scale invasion of Siberia on 1 April 1939. Two major thrusts were made. One aimed at pinching off and surrounding the port city of Vladivostok, while the other was along various points of the Siberian border, with the intent of cutting the Trans-siberain railroad.

Cutting off the CityEdit

The Red Army had always known it would have to fight for the city one day, and had prepared accordingly. Several km of barbed wire and entrenchments ringed the city, making any frontal assault suicide. The Japanese Army's first offensive crossed the Korean border and swung north of the city. Russian troops had been used to shore up the defence of the city, which left very little protecting its flanks. This allowed the Japanese to easily defeat the forces north of the city, and they swung east, reaching the Pacific and sealing off Vladivostok from the west.

Besieging VladivostokEdit

Cutting off the city from the outside world proved to be the easy part of the campaign. Taking the actual city would be difficult. At first, the fighting around the city was limited to artillery duels, and air warfare, as fighters and bombers of both the Red Air Force, and the Army Air Force fought with each other and bombed the others positions. The Imperial Navy played its part in the war with the Soviet Union by defeating the Soviet Pacific Fleet, and confining it to port. Having accomplished this, they added their own carrier and bomber aircraft to the air war, turning this battle into a war of attrition: a war the Soviet’s could not afford to fight. While the battle played out in the skies, the army dug in and prepared to wait it out.

Assaulting the CityEdit

As the siege dragged on, it became clear to the High Command, that attacking the city would the only way to bring the siege to a faster conclusion. With the Trans-siberian Railroad cut in several places, and unlikely to fall back into Soviet hands, reinforcements were diverted to the city in preparation for attacking the fortifications. By the winter of 1939-40, the Japanese Army was ready. While the Japanese dominated the skies, Russian bombers still flew by night, out of Khabarovsk and even bombed the city of Harbin. However, Russian fighters were few and far between, leaving the soviet bombers unprotected, resulting only in nuisance raids, and just made the Japanese troops more miserable.

The battles resembled warfare from the last war, with artillery barrages and man scrambling out of their trenches to take the Soviet trenches. However, these lead to high casualties and often defeat for the Japanese. In order to minimise casualties, it was decided that offensive action against enemy trenches would not be supported by artillery, but heavy machine gun fire, as the standard artillery bombardment alerted the Soviets to the next Japanese push. While these tactics worked, they still chewed up many men.

While unable to undertake any counter offensives of their own, the Soviet’s kept up the pressure on the Japanese with night raids on their trenches, stealing supplies, capturing prisoners for interrogation, and causing havoc behind the Japanese lines.

Defeat and SurrenderEdit

As the winter became spring, it was clear to all, that time was on Japan's side. Although the Soviet Air Force was able to send bombers to help take pressure off Vladivostok, they were unable to ship fighter due to the distance they had to travel, plus the loss a good chunk of the railroad prevented them from getting close enough to the city to help.

Soldiers of the Japanese army began to notice that Soviet artillery barrages were shorter and less frequent. The Soviet trench raiding parties were now primarily stealing food. This lead to the Japanese baiting them with their mobile kitchens, and effectively ending all soviet night raiding. As the Japanese kept up their offensives against Soviet trench works, more and more Soviet soldiers began surrendering without a fight.

With Germany and their allies mounting more presure in Eastern Europe, it became clear to the commander of Vladivostok garrison that no help would be coming. The commander asked for a case-fire and met with Japanese commanders. After three days of talks he agreed to surrender Vladivostok and the surrounding territory.

AftermathEdit

With Vladivostok now under Japanese control, the campaign in Siberia was pretty much at an end. Although trumpeted loudly by the German press, many German soldiers fighting against the Soviets in Poland understood that it meant nothing to them. Siberia was huge, and there really wasn't anything more Japan could do to hurt the Soviet Union way out there. Although there was sporadic fighting along the Siberian frontier between the Japanese and the Soviets, peace wasn't declared until the 'Big Switch' later that year allied the English and the French with the Germans against the Soviet Union. As these combined armies pushed the Soviets back into Russia, Stalin sought peace with Japan, ceding the city and huge chunks of Siberia to them in exchange for peace.

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