On November 30, Russia’s embassy in South Africa posted a tweet commemorating the anniversary of the 1939 war between the Soviet Union and Finland, commonly known as the “Winter War.”
That conflict took place after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop nonaggression pact on August 23, 1939. The pact included a secret protocol to divide Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of interest.
German forces then invaded Poland from the west on September 1, 1939, and Soviet forces invaded Poland from the east on September 17, 1939.
Led by dictator Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union turned its attention to other countries along its border, including the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia – as well as Finland. The Soviets demanded territory and naval basing rights from Finland in exchange for land in neighboring Soviet Karelia. When Finland refused, the Soviet Union used a fabricated artillery shelling incident as a pretext to invade.
Things didn’t go as planned. The Winter War was initially a disaster for the untested Red Army, which suffered more than 300,000 casualties in the three-month conflict.
Yet, the Russian embassy’s tweet presented a completely different narrative:
“82 years ago the USSR-Finland 'Winter War' started fueled by territorial disputes amid forthcoming #WW2 and Third Reich’s enhancing military cooperation with #Finland. Why was Finland viewed by USSR as Hitler’s probable ally?”
That rewrite of history is false.