In the south the Germans were more successful; they took all of Ukraine and pressed on toward the Volga to sever Moscow and Leningrad from the Caucasus, where the USSR’s most productive oil fields were then located. In January 1943 German forces were finally halted and defeated in the epic Battle of Stalingrad (see Volgograd). It was the turning point of the Soviet-German war and one of the decisive engagements of world history. Thereafter the Germans were pressed steadily westward. In the spring and summer of 1944 the Baltic States and Ukraine were practically cleared of enemy forces; by the end of August, Soviet armies were fighting in Poland and Romania. Other victories followed. On April 24, 1945, Soviet forces encircled Berlin; the following day Soviet and U.S. troops met at the Elbe River, marking the complete Allied occupation of Germany. The Allied Powers then divided responsibility for administering Germany and the city of Berlin, putting the eastern sectors under Soviet control and the western sectors under the control of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The war in Europe ended on May 8.
Despite the 1941 neutrality treaty with Japan, Stalin had every intention of joining the war in the Pacific in time to benefit from it. His wartime allies were in favor, hoping that the entry of Soviet troops would hasten Japan’s capitulation. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 9, 1945, the day after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In a series of swift moves against crumbling resistance, Soviet armies occupied most of Manchuria (now known as Northeast China), northern Korea, the Kuril Islands (then part of Japan), and the southern part of Sakhalin Island, which was also a Japanese possession at the time, although the USSR controlled the north. On the basis of these actions the Soviet Union claimed a share in the victory over Japan. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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