As the Soviets were pushed back during Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941, heavy resistance in Kiev split the German Army Group South and Army Group Centre around the flanks of the city. Seeing an opportunity to engulf the Red Army’s southwestern front, Hitler directed the 2nd Panzer Group, which would have assisted the attack on Moscow, southwards to link up with the 1st Panzer group heading north. The two units managed to break through Soviet lines east of Kiev on 16 September, cutting off 450,000 enemy soldiers. The trapped Russian army was short of tanks and any means of quick escape and was quickly pushed out of Kiev. Pockets of Russian resistance held on throughout the area for some time but were stamped out by 26 September. The encirclement of such a large number of troops around Kiev is the considered the largest such event in history.
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