Soviet Invasion Of The Baltic States, 12 – 22 June 1940
With the world’s attention focused on Germany, the Soviet Union initiated action against the Baltic States, in line with the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Since early October 1939 Soviet forces had been granted the right to establish military bases in each of the Baltic states for the duration of the European War, the rejection of this “request” by Finland had led to the Winter War. Moving now to formally gain control of the Baltic States, the Soviet forces were given orders on the 9th June 1940 to prepare for an invasion by the 12th. On the 12th Soviet naval forces were further instructed to commence a blockade of the Baltic States.
The position of the Baltic states was already very weak, with the Soviet military already in occupation of bases within them. On the 14th June the Soviets issued an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding the stationing of unlimited Soviet troops and the installation of a pro-Soviet government, and commenced the blockade of Estonia.
That day the Finnish airliner “Kaleva” carrying passengers and US diplomatic pouches from Tallinn to Helsinki was intercepted by Soviet aircraft and shot down with the loss of all on board. Fear of further Soviet action against Finland prevented a formal Finnish protest.
On the 15th Soviet forces moved into Lithuania and attacked Latvian border posts, and on the 16th issued similar ultimata to Estonia and Latvia. With no possibility of resisting, the Baltic governments surrendered their sovereignty. The only resistance occurred in Estonia where a Signal Battalion fought the invaders and Estonian fifth columnists who attempted to disarm them on the 21st, until the arrival of Soviet armoured cars led to a negotiated surrender.
By the 21st, new popular front provisional governments had been formed in each state. Under Soviet supervision elections were held to ratify the candidates with no opposition choices. Within a month each of the new assemblies had met with only a single order of business, a resolution to join the Soviet Union.