"Battle of Khalkhin what?" This is the instinctive response most of you will give after reading the heading. It is understandable. The Battle of Khalkhin Gol does not find a mention in most history books.Why? Because it involved Russia. Most western historians tend underplay the contribution of Russia in defeating Nazi Germany.
And the Battle of Khalkhin Gol cast a long shadow on how the Russo-German War during WW2 panned out.
Khalkhin Gol is a river which demarcated the boundary line between Mongolia, Soviet Union and Japanese occupied Manchuria. The year was 1939. The Japanese army in Manchukuo had designs on Soviet territory and trespassed the border now and again. Stalin wanted to erase the threat for good so he sent his best commander Georgy Zhukov, the same man who later led the Red Army as it destroyed the Nazi German army.
Zhukov in the ensuing Battle of Khalkhin Gol gave the Japanese army a thorough thrashing. The Japanese remembered the thrashing and did not attack Russia from the east when Hitler's army was sweeping through the country in 1941. In December 1941, as the Germans inched towards Moscow, Stalin got a confirmation from his spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, that Japan was not going to attach the Soviet Union despite German requests.
This allowed him to strip his eastern troops and threw them against the advancing Germans. As we all know the Germans were pushed back steadily from Moscow.
The importance of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol is that if Zhukov had not given the Japanese a hiding in the battle, Japan might have been tempted to attack the Soviet Union in 1941 from the east. The result of the Battle of Moscow might have been different. Russia might have collapsed then under the assault from the west and east.....And may be Hitler might have won the Second World War..