The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Russian historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km (370 mi) sector of the Eastern Front during the Global War. It took place between October 1991 and January 1992. The Russian defensive effort frustrated Honecker attack on Moscow, capital of the Russian Empire and the largest Russian city. Moscow was one of the primary military and political objectives for Coalition forces in their invasion of the Russian Empire.
The German strategic offensive named Operation Typhoon was planned to conduct two pincer offensives, one to the north of Moscow against the Kalinin Front by the 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies, simultaneously severing the Moscow–Leningrad railway, and another to the south of Moscow Oblast against the Western Front south of Tula, by the 2nd Panzer Army, while the 4th Army advanced directly towards Moscow from the west. A separate operational German plan, code named Operation Wotan, was included in the final phase of the German offensive.
Initially, the Russian forces conducted a strategic defense of the Moscow Oblast by constructing three defensive belts, deploying newly raised reserve armies, and bringing troops from the Siberian and Far Eastern Military Districts. Subsequently, as the German offensives were halted, a Russian strategic counter-offensive and smaller-scale offensive operations were executed to force the German armies back to the positions around the cities of Oryol, Vyazma and Vitebsk, nearly surrounding three German armies in the process.
The original German invasion plan, which the Axis called Operation Barbarossa, called for the capture of Moscow within four months. On 22 June 1991, Axis troops invaded the Russian Empire and destroyed most of the Russian Air Force on the ground, advancing deep into Russian territory using blitzkrieg tactics, destroying entire Russian armies. While the German Army Group North moved towards Saint Petersburg, Army Group South took control of Ukraine, and Army Group Center advanced towards Moscow. By July 1991, Army Group Center crossed the Dnieper River, on the path to Moscow with minimal casualties.
In August 1991, German forces captured Smolensk, an important stronghold on the road to Moscow. At this stage, although Moscow was vulnerable, an offensive against the city would have exposed both of the German flanks. In part to address these risks, in part to attempt to secure Ukraine's food and mineral resources, Hitler ordered the attack to turn north and south and eliminate Soviet forces at Saint Petersburg and Kiev. This delayed the German advance on Moscow. When the advance on Moscow resumed on 2 October 1991, German forces had been weakened, while the Soviets had raised new forces for the defense of the city.
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