Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: yesterday, today and tomorrow / Articles
Once more on the battle of Khalkhin Gol
Material posted: Publication date: 15-07-2016
Passed 77 years from the time the Japanese troops were defeated at Khalkhin-Gol. However, it continues to remain interested in this armed conflict among historians studying the complex of problems related to the causes of the Second world war. The search continues for more accurate and reasonable answers to the questions: the conflict arose accidentally or intentionally organized, what are its causes, which party was the initiator and what was the purpose?

The point of view of Japanese military historians have been outlined in "the Official history of the war in greater East Asia." It is based on the assertion that it was a border conflict that the Soviet leadership used "to strike at the Japanese army, wanting to deprive her hopes for victory in China and then focus all their attention on Europe." The authors state that the Soviet Union knew that is steeped in military actions in China, the Japanese government did everything possible to prevent further border conflicts. However, some Japanese researchers still consider it as the armed clash, deliberately organized act of the anti-Soviet-minded military, especially the command of the land forces and the Kwantung army. To determine the causes of this conflict it is necessary to briefly consider the preceding events.

In the early autumn of 1931 the Japanese troops occupied part of Manchuria and approached the Soviet state border. The General staff of the Japanese army at this time adopts "the Main provisions of the war plan against the Soviet Union", providing for the nomination of the troops of the Rising sun to the East of the Great Khingan and the imminent defeat of the main forces of the red Army. At the end of 1932 there was a plan of war against our country on 1933, the alleged successive defeat units of the red army, the liquidation of the Soviet far East air bases and occupation, the nearest to the borders of Manchuria, the site of the far Eastern railway.

Japanese military-political leadership took into account that the USSR in the mid-thirties was able to significantly strengthen its defenses in the far East, therefore decided to conclude an Alliance with Germany. In a secret decision of the government of Japan on 7 August 1936 noted that, in relation to Soviet Russia, the interests of Berlin and Tokyo in General coincide. German-Japanese cooperation should be directed to ensuring the defense of Japan and dealing with the red." 25 Nov 1936, Japanese foreign Minister Arita during a meeting of the Privy Council, ratified prisoner "anti-Comintern Pact", announced that from that moment the Russians should realize that they have to be face to face with Germany and Japan. The presence of the allies in the West (in 1937, the Pact joined by Italy) inspired by the Japanese ruling circles on the flywheel of military expansion in Asia, aimed primarily against China and the Soviet Union.

July 7, 1937 was triggered by the incident at lugou bridge near Beijing that became the pretext for the start of large-scale hostilities against China. The Western powers pursued a policy of actual appeasement of the aggressor, relying on the Soviet-Japanese clash. About it absolutely openly said on 26 August 1937 in conversation with the American Ambassador in Paris, Bullitt, the French head of the foreign Ministry of France Delbos: "a Japanese attack in the first place not directed against China, against the Soviet Union. The Japanese want to take over the rail route from Tianjin to Babina and Galangal, to prepare the offensive on the TRANS-Siberian railway near lake Baikal and against the Inner and Outer Mongolia". This foresight of the French Minister is unlikely a coincidence. In the West knew about the anti-Russian orientation of Japanese foreign policy in its strategic plans. However, in 1938 Japan, carried out an offensive in Northern and Central parts of China, was not yet ready to inflict a massive blow to the TRANS-Siberian railway near lake Baikal through Mongolia. For the preparation of such an operation took time, and therefore in the same year she provoked a military conflict near lake Hassan, who completed her defeat. However, the Japanese government managed to show the Western powers the seriousness of his intentions to direct blow to the North. And in the fall of 1938 the Japanese General staff started developing a war plan against the Soviet Union, held under the code name "operation Plan No. 8. The plan was developed in two versions: "A" ("Ko") — a major blow was struck against Soviet troops in Primorye; B ("Otsu") — the attack was carried out in very few expected the Soviet Union towards the West through Mongolia.

The Eastern route has long attracted the attention of Japanese strategists. War Minister Itagaki in 1936 pointed out that it is enough to look at a map to see how important position from the point of view of influence of Japan and Manchuria, occupies Outer Mongolia (MPR), which is an extremely important area as it covers the Siberian railway, which is the main road linking the Soviet far East with the rest of the USSR. So if Outer Mongolia to join Japan and Manchuria, the security of the Russian Far East will suffer. If necessary, it will be possible to eliminate the influence of the Soviet Union in the far East without a fight.

To ensure preparation for the invasion of our country through Mongolia, Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, the Japanese began the construction of Railways and roads, and airfields, in particular, urgently laid railway line from Soluna on Gunjur through the greater Khingan range, after which the path was parallel to the mongolo-Manchurian border.

In April 1939 the Japanese General staff was the assessment of the European military-political situation and noted that there is rapidly emerging events. So April 1, it was decided to accelerate the preparation for war. The command of the Kwantung army has stepped up training of option "B" of the "operation Plan No. 8 with a view to its implementation next summer. It is believed that, in the event of hostilities on the distance of 800 km from the nearest railway junction, the Red Army will not be able to organise the delivery of the necessary reinforcements, weapons and other tangible support for the troops. In this part of the Kwantung army, located no farther than 200 km from the railway tracks, will be able to create a supply base. The command of the Kwantung army reported to the General staff that the Soviet Union for military operations in the Halkin-Gol will need to expend ten times more effort than the Japanese.

May 9, 1939, the chief of the General staff of the Japanese army Prince Kanin presented to the Emperor a report, which confirmed the desire of the ground forces to give the Triple Alliance primarily anti-Soviet. Armed conflict on the river Halkin-Gol was to check the degree of combat readiness and combat capability of Soviet forces and experience the power of the Kwantung army received after the defeat at lake Khasan the corresponding gain. The Japanese command knew that Germany, England and France is believed to reduce the readiness of the red Army after the cleaning of her senior command personnel. In the area of the planned operation, the Japanese have focused the 23rd infantry division, whose command staff were considered experts on the Soviet Union and the red army, and its commander, Lieutenant General Komatsubara was at one time military attache in the USSR.

In April from the headquarters of the Kwantung army were sent to the instruction on the actions of the Japanese units in the border area, where it was recommended that in cases of crossing the border violators should be destroyed immediately. The implementation of these objectives allowed even temporary entry into the territory of the Soviet Union. It was also stated the need to identify the commander of parts of the defense of boundaries in those areas where it is not clearly defined, and specify its units of the first line.

The Mongol-Manchurian border in the area took place about 20 km East of the R. Khalkhin Gol, but the commander of the Kwantung army was determined strictly by the banks of the river. May 12 the commander of the 23rd infantry division conducted a reconnaissance, after which ordered Japanese units to discard Khalkin-Gol had crossed over to the group of Mongolian cavalry, and on may 13 entered the battle a regiment of infantry supported by aircraft. May 28, 23rd infantry division after a preliminary bombardment went on the offensive. On 30 may, the General staff of the army gave the Kwantung army 1st aviaoughiner composed of 180 aircraft and, in addition, asked about the needs of the army in men and war materials. Troops of the Kwantung army began immediate preparations for a military conflict.

Aggression against our country and Mongolia, therefore, was prepared ahead of time. The Japanese side from 1936 to 1938, more than 230 times violated the state border of the USSR, 35 of which was a major military conflict. From January 1939 the object of constant attacks was the state border of Mongolia, but fighting with the participation of regular troops of the Imperial army began here in mid-may. The balance of forces by this time were in favor of the enemy against soldiers 125000, 186 tanks, armored vehicles and 265 82 combat aircraft of the Soviet-Mongolian troops Japan has focused 33000 soldiers, tanks 135, 226 aircraft. However, planned success she achieved: heavy fighting continued until the end of may, and Japanese troops were withdrawn behind the border line.

The beginning of hostilities for the defending was not entirely successful. The Japanese attack on the Eastern section of the border for our command was unexpected because it was believed that the Japanese forces will begin active operations in the Western part of the border, where the Soviet command and to concentrate our troops.

The negative impact, along with poor knowledge of local conditions, provided the lack of combat experience, especially in managing the parts. Extremely unsuccessful actions of Soviet aviation. First, due to the fact that the planes were of obsolete types. Secondly, airfields were equipped not completely. In addition, there was no communication between the units. And finally, personnel lacked experience. It all led to significant losses: 15 fighters and 11 pilots, while the Japanese had shot down only one machine.

Was urgently taken to improve the combat capability of air force units. To the place of hostilities, sent a group of aces under command of corps commander Y. V. Smushkevich, increased the fleet of combat vehicles and radically improved the planning of military operations and security. It has taken vigorous measures to increase the combat capability of the 57th special infantry corps. At the end of may 1939 at Khalkin-Gol came from a group of commanders headed by the corps commander G. K. Zhukov, who took 12th of June the command of the Soviet troops in Mongolia.

The first half of June was relatively quiet. Taking into account the experience of the may fighting, the two sides pulled up to the area of operations. In particular, the Soviet group intensified, in addition to other compounds, and two monobromobimane (7th and 8th). The Japanese by the end of June focused in the area of Khalkhin Gol fully of the 23rd infantry division, 2nd infantry regiment of the 7th division, 2 armored regiment, 3 cavalry regiment Khingan division, about 200 aircraft, artillery and other units.

In early July the Japanese again launched an attack, wanting to surround and destroy our troops who were on the Eastern shore of Khalkhin Gol. The main fighting took place near the mount Bain-Tsagan and lasted for three days. On this site from both sides met in battle nearly 400 tanks and armored vehicles, 300 artillery pieces and hundreds of combat aircraft. Initially, the success accompanied the Japanese troops. Crossed the river, they pushed the Soviet forces, and came to the Northern slopes of Bain-Tsagan, and continued to build on the success along the West Bank of the river, trying to go to our troops in the rear. However, the Soviet command, thrown in the 11th tank brigade and the 24th motorized rifle regiment, managed to reverse the course of the fighting, forcing the morning of 5 July the Japanese to retreat. The enemy lost up to 10 thousand soldiers and officers, almost all the tanks, most of the artillery and 46 aircraft.

On 7 July, the Japanese attempted to take revenge, but they failed, moreover, 5 days of fighting they had lost over 5,000 people. Japanese troops were forced to continue the retreat.

In the historical literature these fights is called Bin-Taganskogo slaughter. But for us, these fights were difficult. Only the losses of the 11th tank brigade was about a hundred combat vehicles and more than 200 people. Soon the fighting resumed and went on throughout July, but to any serious changes in the situation and failed. On 25 July, the command of the Kwantung army gave the order to stop offensive, bringing order to the troops and the material and fixing on the boundary, where the part currently. The fighting, which went from June to July, was a turning point in the struggle of Soviet aircraft for air supremacy. By the end of June it had destroyed about 60 enemy aircraft. If in may it was committed only 32 sorties, in which in total participated 491 aircraft, from 1 June to 1 July 74 departure (1219 aircraft). But in early July, the number of downed aircraft has increased by 40. Thus losing about 100 combat vehicles, the Japanese command from mid-July had been forced temporarily to abandon the action in the air.

Reaching goals during the fighting from may to July, the Japanese high command had intended to address them is scheduled for the end of summer "General offensive", which carefully and thoroughly prepared. Fresh connections, which was urgently transferred to the area of operations, to August 10, formed 6th army, numbering 55,000, more than 500 guns, 182 tanks, not less than 1,300 guns and over 300 aircraft.

The Soviet command, in turn, have also prepared a response. Of Soviet internal military districts to the seat of hostilities was transferred two infantry divisions, tank brigade, artillery, part of the software. By mid-August, part of the 1st army group consisted of (including three of the cavalry division of the MPR) to 57 thousand people, 2255 machine guns, 498 tanks and 385 armored cars, 542 guns and mortars, more than 500 aircraft. The Soviet-Mongolian troops were given the task — to surround and then destroy the aggressor troops invaded the territory of the MPR, and to restore the Mongol border.

Preparing for the operation under extremely challenging conditions. Due to the significant remoteness of the combat zone from the railway had to be transported on vehicles, the personnel, combat equipment, ammunition, food. For the month to a distance of about 750 km, in off-road conditions, the heroic efforts of the Soviet people, were moved about 50,000 tons of various cargoes and about 18,000. Summing up the results of the operation on one of the dissections, the brigade commander Bogdanov said: "...I must stress here that... our rear, our soldiers — the drivers, our soldiers staged the mouth... all these people showed no less heroism than all of us on this front. No less. Imagine the situation: over 4 months the drivers of the cars for 6 days doing flights from the front to the Solov'evsk and Solov'evsk up front. 740 miles, and so continuously every day without sleep... It's the greatest heroism in the rear..."

So hard work towards supply of material resources to a great distance and in adverse climatic conditions hampered the regular maintenance led to frequent outputs of the car down. By September 1939, for example, a quarter of the fleet turned out to be faulty. In front of the repair service had the task in the shortest possible time to put into operation the damaged equipment, to spend in the field the required repairs. And employees of the MTO with this task successfully coped.

Preparations for the offensive were held in high secrecy, to take active and effective measures to mislead the enemy. For example, the troops sent a Reminder to the fighter in defense", written by G. K. Zhukov, was passed on false reports about the progress of the construction of fortifications, all the rearrangement was carried out only at night and in parts. The noise we deployed have tanks, was played to drown out the hum of the night bombers and the firing of small arms. To create the enemy impression on the strengthening of the Soviet-Mongolian troops of the Central portion of the front of the station worked only in the center. Army Socotra produced imitation of hammering stakes and the noise tanks, etc.

The Japanese command beginning "General offensive" planned for August 24. But at dawn on 20 August the Soviet-Mongolian troops suddenly for the enemy launched a powerful offensive. It began with a powerful bomb attack, which involved more than 300 aircraft. Behind him were the artillery preparation and the battle entered the tank, and then infantry and cavalry units. It is worth noting that the Japanese are quite quickly recovered from the surprise and began a stubborn resistance, sometimes even turning to the counter. The fighting was fierce and bloody. From 20th to 23rd August, our troops broke through Japanese defenses and surrounded the enemy. Attempts by the Japanese to break through the encirclement strikes from the outside were not successful. After suffering considerable losses, the unlocking of the connection were forced to retreat. On 27 August the encircled troops had been mutilated and partly destroyed, and August 31, the enemy on the territory of Mongolia were completely destroyed.

Despite this, the Japanese continued to fight, and only on 16 September their government admitted defeat. During the fighting, the enemy lost about 61,000 men killed, wounded and prisoners, about 660 aircraft, a wide variety of military property and equipment. The total losses of the Soviet-Mongolian forces amounted to over 18,000 people.

Victory 77 years ago in the area of Khalkhin-Gol, it has become possible not only thanks to competent leadership of the troops from the command of the, modern at the time of military equipment, but mass heroism. In fierce air battles on Khalkhin Goal of the Soviet pilots V. F. Sharikhin, A. F. machin, V. P. Kustov, having spent ammunition, made air rams and destroy the enemy. Air force commander of the 1st army group Colonel Kucevalov said: "We did not have during the period of hostilities of no case when anyone in the battle chickened out and went with a fight... We have a number of heroic feats that have made your eyes, when pilots did not have enough bombs, bullets, they just rammed the enemy planes, and if they are dead, after all, and the enemy was falling..."

The exploits of Soviet soldiers on Mongolian soil are calculated not in tens and even by hundreds. The total number of awarded military orders and medals exceeds 17,000 people. Three of them: S. I. Gritsevets, Kravchenko and Ya. V. Smushkevich for the second time awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, heroes of the Soviet Union were 70 soldiers, gentlemen of the order of Lenin — 536, red banner — 3224, red Star — 1102, medals "For courage" and "For military merit" were awarded almost 12 million people. All of this was the sobering lesson for the Japanese leadership, and not risked during the Second world war to attack the Mongolian people's Republic or the USSR.


  1. Gorbunov E. A. 20 Aug 1939. M.: Young guard, 1986. Pp. 32-87.
  2. Novikov M. Victory at Khalkhin Gol. Moscow: Politizdat, 1971. P. 3-92.
  3. Panasovsky Lessons Khasan and Khalkhin Gol. Moscow: Znanie, 1989. S. 48-56
  4. Vartanov's distance from the river. // VIZH. 1988. No. 8. P. 32-37.
  5. Koshkin A. A. the Collapse of the strategy of "ripe persimmon". The military policy of Japan against the Soviet Union 1931-1945 M.: Thought. 1989. P. 24-42.



Tags: war , Japan , USSR

RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security