After 80 years, Stalin’s war expands

A winter of fear looms as Russian forces mass on the border with Ukraine, sending shivers down the spine of NATO. But the ongoing war of nerves over Donbass is a far cry from the desperation and slaughter of 80 years ago this December, when one of the most critical struggles in the greatest war in history played out before Moscow.

After blitzing across the USSR in the seismic Operation Barbarossa, Nazi forces were halted before the Soviet capital, then routed in a counter-offensive in December 1941. That intense drama marked the first real defeat of German land forces in World War II.

The events of eight decades ago marked a turning point in the fighting on the Russian front, the biggest and most murderous battlefront in the biggest and most murderous of wars.

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