On 23 June 1944 the Red Army attacked Army Group Centre in Belorussia as part of Operation Bagration. Following the collapse of the German front line, the Soviets encircled German forces around Minsk, liberating the city on 4 July. The Soviet offensive now turned to Poland and the Baltic States. With the lifting of the siege of Leningrad on 27 January 1944 the Soviets had pushed German Army Group North to the west of Lake Peipus and, in August, began Operation Tartu, which aimed at a speedy occupation of Estonia. By August Soviet forces were moving deep into the territory of the Baltic States, where they were poised to begin the Baltic Offensive, on 14 September, to roust the German occupiers. Meanwhile, in June 1944, the Red Army returning battle-hardened and with greatly improved weaponry, intelligence and organization, launched a major offensive against Finland. They pushed the Finnish army back, but at the Battle of Tali-Ihantala, 25 June–9 July, the Finns, outnumbered 3:1, held back the Soviet advance.
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