|Date||October 7, 1967-October 18, 1967|
|Result||Soviet Conquest of Mongolia|
The Soviet-Mongolian War was a conflict between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of Mongolia which began on 7 October, 1967, 50 years after the October Revolution.
Though Mongolia was a communist state, democratic uprisings had been sweeping through the nation beginning that summer. The Soviets desired to put these uprisings down.
Also, the Soviets greatly desired the oil and mineral rich lands on which Mongolia rests. As the Soviet Union grew, more materials were needed to feed its growth and Mongolia could provide that.
Finally, the invasion of Mongolia was a test run for later Soviet invasions of larger nations. The Soviets knew they greatly over matched the Mongolians on paper, but they wanted to see what would happen when the guns started firing.
In order to ensure Chinese co-operation during the invasion, the Soviet Union signed the secret Khabarovsk Pact with the People's Republic of China on 25 October 1967. The pact, signed in Khabarovsk, just north of the Russian-Manchurian border, guaranteed that the Chinese would receive the southern one-third of Mongolia in exchange for neutrality during the Soviet invasion.
The Soviets would have run the risk of Chinese resistance had they simply invaded Mongolia without signing the Khaborvsk Pact, but this pact ensured that the Chinese would stay out of the way, allowing the Red Army to do its work in Mongolia unopposed.
Setting the Stage
The Soviet plan was simple. Using a barrage of tanks with infantry trailing behind, the Russians would rush towards the Mongolian capitol of Ulan Bator, which was located less than 150 miles from the Soviet-Manchurian border.
In the preceding week, three mechanized infantry divisions were massed at Nauski just across the border. Days later, three divisions of T-55s arrived. In addition, the Soviets brought in over 150 fighters and 50 bombers for use in the invasion In total, the Soviets had a force of over 50,000 men and over 500 tanks.
The Mongolians had a force of 45,000 ill-trained soldiers and under 50 tanks stationed near the town of Orkhon along the Orkhon river, squarely in the way of the Soviet invasion. Morale was low among the Mongolian army as they knew that a Soviet victory was inevitable. Even if they managed to slow the Soviets down, they could call in thousands of troops worth of re-inforcements if they needed to.
The Soviets crossed the Mongolian border at 4:00 AM on 7 October as T-55s and 50,000 Soviet troops marched across the border virtually unopposed. There was sparse fire from scattered Mongolian troops stationed in the area, but the Soviets only suffered one casualty during the initial border crossing.
The Soviets made their way southwesterly along the Orkhon River unopposed as they advanced toward the 45,000 Mongolian troops stationed just outside Orkhon.
Battle of Orkhon
The only battle of the war was at the Battle of Orkhon when some 50,000 Soviet troops and 500 tanks met up against 45,000 Mongolian soldiers. In addition, the Soviets had complete air superiority with over 200 aircraft at their disposal.
The Soviets began firing artillery toward Orkhon on 10 October at 7:00 AM, destroying many of the Mongolian defenses. A Soviet strategic bombing campaign along with an artillery barrage continued for the next six hours, which killed over 1,000 Mongolian troops. Only one Soviet aircraft was shot down during the initial barrage.
At 1:23 PM, two divisions of T-34s were dispatched and raced ahead of the infantry to encircle the Mongolian forces, which were already disorganized from the artillery fire. Soviet infantry begin advancing a couple hours later.
Surrounded, the Mongolians held out for two days, but heavy casualties eventually forced the Mongolian forces at Orkhon to surrender. The Soviets suffered only 34 deaths and 95 wounded during the battle while inflicting over 20,000 casualties upon the Mongolians. A few thousand Mongolian troops escaped the encirclement, but the remaining 20,000+ troops surrendered to the Soviets on 12 October.
Chinese Invasion from the South
On 11 October, the Chinese began to invade Mongolia from the south, in order to gain the territory which was provided to them through the Khabavorsk Pact. The Chinese forces advanced virtually unopposed into Mongolia from the south. The only armed conflict was with scattered Mongolian militias engaging in guerrilla warfare. However, these militias were few and far between and the Chinese had no problems with disposing of them.
Ulan Bator Response
In response to the disaster at Orkhon, Mongolian Head of State Jamsrangiin Sambuu and the rest of the Mongolian government realized the futility of the situation. With the Soviets due to arrive in Ulan Bator with a few days, the Mongolian government was forced to make a decision. They could either evacuate the city or surrender.
Siege of Ulan Bator
Soviet troops arrived at Ulan Bator on 16 October. Soviet artillery began to fire upon the city on 17 October as Soviet Premiere Leonid Brezhnev demanded an unconditional surrender by Mongolia. With 50,000 troops and 500 tanks ready to invade Mongolia's capitol, the Head of State Sambuu signed an armistice on 18 October which ended armed conflict between the Soviet Union and Mongolia.
Just 11 days into the conflict, the Soviets had won the war. Although the Soviets were sure to encounter scattered resistance throughout the large nation of Mongolia, they had seized the capitol city, so any real organized resistance would be hard to come by. Soviet tanks ran through Ulan Bator city streets on 19 October as many pictures were taken which would be used in Soviet propaganda later on.
Treaty of Ulan Bator
The Soviets forced the Mongolians to sign the Treaty of Ulan Bator on 23 October. The Treaty established Mongolia as a Soviet satellite state. Nikola Tarasov was installed as Mongolia's leader. While Mongolia was implied to be an independent nation, the reality is that Tarasov answered to Moscow.
Under the treaty, Mongolia also became part of the Warsaw Pact.
Also, the treaty granted the Chinese the southern third of Mongolia, which was incorporated into the People's Republic of China.
The ease at which the Soviets invaded Mongolia was a sign to the rest of the world that the Soviets meant serious business.
NATO strongly condemned the invasion, but no repercussions were introduced. While NATO did not wish to see the Soviets invading nations such as Mongolia, they also were not interested in starting World War III. Thus, a policy of appeasement was followed as the Soviets got nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Soviet leaders gained more confidence in the Red Army's capabilities following the successful invasion. Also, the lack of any substantial NATO response gave the Soviets the impression that they could do whatever they want without consequences. This would come into play later on as the Soviets would eventually attempt to invade the oil-rich areas south of the Cacausus in order to control more of the world's oil.