Second Russian War (20 March 1939-30  January 1941) - was a military conflict (by some historians considered phase of the greater conflict together with First Russian War) between different nationalities of the Russian Empire and Poland and Ukraine, which declared independence from Russia less than ten years before. The conflict had such a profound impact on 20th century history, that "Russianisation" entered dictionaries, meaning rapid disintegration of an empire into smaller states, hostile to each other.


The outcome of First Russian War left most of the factions disappointed. Latvians, Estonians and Finns lost their independence. In spite of political thaw, that occurred, in the thirties in Russian Empire, there was still severe discrimination against ethnic minorities. Russia wasn't able to deal with economic depression, starvation persisted and even increased with the destruction of the war. Ethnic problems increased, as national consciousness of Caucasians, Turkic people and Belorussians was growing and demands of independence were growing louder. By the outbreak of war, most oppressed nations had well developed underground state apparatus and were waiting for a possibility of revolt.

Ukraine, in spite of having won independence, was stripped of many ethnic Ukrainian provinces by Russia and Poland. General feeling of unfair treatment of Ukraine led to rise of populist and nationalist parties. Greater Ukraine Party won the elections in 1933 and soon turned Ukraine into single party dictatorship. GUP tried to spur Ukrainian hatred towards Poles and Russians. 

Despite the fact that Russia was still oppressing other nations, Russians felt very uneasy about First Russian War, not only independence of Ukraine, which was considered East Slavic brotherly nation and was therefore a blow to Panslavic rhetoric that characterised Russia from its formation, but nation declaring independence was a sign of weakness of Russian Empire. While military inferiority of Russia was well known to the Western powers, from the outbreak of Crimean War, increasing number of leaders were viewing Russia as "new sick man of Europe" and its collapse was considered more and more imminent.


In 1938, Russia was forced to give Finland autonomy back under risk of open rebellion. Finns weren't satisfied with small autonomy given to them, which was repeatedly broken anyway. On 6 March, Finnish National Party issued declaration of independence. Russia sent troops to deal with rebels. In support of Finnish independence, Baltic nations and Ukrainians took up arms. On 28 March, when Russia was in civil war, Ukrainian state had sent a diplomatic note, that said that Ukrainians living in Russia declared independence and it was Ukrainian duty to protect them from Russian invaders. Diplomatic note was followed by Ukrainian troops crossing Russian borders. Russia considered that act declaration of war and sent troops to stop the Ukrainians. Russians had no popular support (Ukrainian guerrillas were harassing Russian army) and were promptly defeated by Ukrainians in a series of battles: in September, they took Crimea; by the end of the year, Ukrainian army reached the Don river.

War with Poland

In 1939, it was clear to Ukrainian leadership that Russia was unable to put up any resistance. Ukraine started amassing troops on border with Poland. The war broke out on 19 February. Poland Army put up hard defences, but was forced to slowly retreat. Volhynia wild lands and marshes and winter halted Ukrainian invasion. At the same time, Russians were planning a counteroffensive. In late 1939, Russian troops attempted to cross Don river and after heavy fighting, especially in Rostov region, Ukrainians were in full retreat. Disaster for Ukrainian government was avoided, when Japan, in pursuit of its expansionist policy, invaded Russia. Engaged in a two-front war and unable to pacify separatist and anti-tsarist, Russian government fell apart. In summer 1940, Ukrainians continued invasion of Poland. The peace talks begun in December 1940 and ended on 30 January 1941 with treaty of Sevastopol.

Terms of peace

Peace with Russia

  • Russia cedes all territories west of Don river and Kuban region
  • Russia recognises independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Transcaucasian Federation, Tatarstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

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