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Karun Mukherji asked: What is the truth behind Barbarossa? Was Stalin planning to invade Germany in summer of 1941?

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  • Kalyanaraman replies: Nazi Germany was determined to establish its primacy in Europe, which meant defeating both the Western powers and the Soviet Union in the East. The Soviet Union was committed to bringing about a world of communism, and like Russians of previous and subsequent decades, Soviet leaders were acutely conscious of the geopolitical imperative of exercising control over their periphery in Eastern Europe. In November 1940, talks between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union centred on Moscow joining the Tripartite Pact (between Germany, Italy and Japan) while at the same time Germany insisted that Soviet Russia not focus on eastern Europe and instead concentrate on territories to its south towards the Indian Ocean. But this was not acceptable to Soviet Russia. This is the backdrop against which we should look at the outbreak of conflict between these two powers. It is known that Hitler had ordered preparations for a war against the Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of the defeat inflicted on France in the summer of 1940. And after the November 1940 talks failed to make progress, on 18 December 1940, Hitler signed a formal directive to ensure that preparations for a war against Russia be completed by 15 May 1941. For his part, Stalin surely made his own military preparations; but mainstream historians have not so far given credence to the argument that Stalin had plans to change the Soviet military's orientation from a defensive mode into an offensive mode for a invasion of Germany.