Author: Andy Young

Billy Joel’s historic Soviet concert tour

The year is 1987. The iconic red telephone has been on Gorbachev’s desk for two years, and Glasnost is just getting into gear. America isn’t quite the enemy it used to be, and new freedoms mean that American rock music is suddenly not just cool, but almost accepted by the old timers in the Kremlin.

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Khalkhin-Gol – the forgotten battle that shaped WW2

In August 1939, just weeks before Hitler invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan fought the largest tank battle the world had ever seen. Under the then unknown General Georgy Zhukov, the Soviets won a crushing victory at the batte of Khalkhin-Gol (known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident). Defeat persuaded the Japanese to expand into the Pacific, where they saw the United States as a weaker opponent than the Soviet Union. If the Japanese had not lost at Khalkhin Gol, they may never have attacked Pearl Harbor. The Japanese decision to expand southwards also meant that the Soviet Eastern flank was secured for the duration of the war. Instead of having to fight on two fronts, the Soviets could mass their troops – under the newly promoted General Zhukov – against the threat of Nazi Germany in the West. In terms of its strategic impact, the battle of Khalkhin Gol was one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War, but no-one has ever heard of it. Why? Rising Tensions It was perhaps not all that surprising that the Soviet Union and Japan, two expansionist powers who just happened to be close neighbours, butted heads in the Mongolian borderlands. Tensions between the two had been high for decades, and had erupted into open conflict on a number of occasions. Japan had clearly had an edge over...

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