The Soviets’ final operation of World War II was the invasion of the Japanese-administered territories in Mongolia, Manchuria (Manchukuo), northern Korea and the Kuril Islands. The invasion began in August 1945, three months after the Germans’ surrender, and coinciding with the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On 9 August the Soviets declared war on Japan and, under the command of Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsy, launched a huge pincer movement on three extended fronts: Khingan–Mukden in the east, Harbin–Jilin in the west, and Sungari in the north. With their Kwantung Army defeated in China, and under threat of nuclear annihilation by the US, the Japanese surrendered on 15 August. However, this news was not directly communicated to the Kwantung Army, and pockets of resistance continued, allowing the Soviets to maximize territorial gains. By 2 September the Soviets had almost reached the Yellow Sea and Soviet troops had gained control of northern Korea, stopping – by prior agreement with the US government – at the 38th parallel.
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