At the end of 1943 OKW has assumed the painful puzzle to discuss with the Finnish side the course of events south of Leningrad. Keitel asked K. Mannerheim with a letter, in which argued that the Army Group "North" will continue to detain a limit on the Luga River. He asked Marshall about what kind of help the German side can have the Finns as a compensation for the rise in Russian danger coming. In response K. Mannerheim proposed 20th Mountain Army stretch its own right flank south to the district Wow, that the Finnish army would receive the opportunity to rescue one division. The commander of the 20th Army E. Dietl sharply objected. He said that by linking the sub-prime sector of the front in Finland for more German troops, Germany would spray very forces that Finland could make a significant contribution to total war. This country is fully capable to gain even one division from its own reserves, "is not shouldering this burden on Germany, on the shoulders of that and so is the entire burden of the war." In addition, E. Dietl was annoyed nedavneshnimi protests about the Finnish side of insignificance retreat of the German troops in Finland. E. Dietl had intended to ask K. Mannerheim did not object to the transfer of a very probable number of Army Group "North", "which is also fighting for Finland." But the command of the OKW, remembering the warnings received from Finland in autumn 1943, to anticipate what the reaction would be enough K. Mannerheim restrained. Because E. Dietl was ordered his troops to take on their own responsibility and the area around Wow.
During a conference in Tehran (November 28 — December 1, 1943) Roosevelt and Churchill informed IV Stalin, what would that Finland out of the war before the scheduled start in the spring of 1944 Allied invasion of Western Europe. In addition, they insisted, that after the peace treaty concluded Finland retained its independence. Franklin D. Roosevelt as the sole representative of the country of 3, which was not in a state of war in Finland, has offered to try to convince the Finns refer to the anti-Hitler coalition with the request for an armistice. IV Stalin saw that in the light of attempts Finns feelers to peace Russian alliance has no intention against the independence of Finland. At the same time, he added, Russian Alliance reclaims restore border in 1940 In addition, the Finns will have to give Russian Pechenga (Ancient Russian Pechenga was donated by Finland in 1920 by the government of Lenin and renamed the Petsamo) and pay substantial reparations. At night Feb. 6 200 Russian aircraft bombed Helsinki.
The next day South American Municipal Department sent a note of the Finnish government, which said that the longer Finland will continue to participate in the war, the harder it will be for the peace terms of the contract. The 8th to the Russian newspaper "Izvestia" was placed a large editorial. There addressed the question of the likely Russian coming to Helsinki and directly pointed to the fact that the Russian more than enough for this power. February 10 American text notes was placed in the Finnish newspapers. There, in the editorials expressed almost unanimously in favor of the world searching for ways to make peace. NIGHT MODE 150 of the Russian bombers made a raid on the Finnish city of Kotka. February 12 Finnish government sent a former prime minister and ambassador to the last Russian Union of Dr. J. Paasikivi in Stockholm, where the Russian salted in Sweden AM Kollontai was to give him the conditions imposed by the Russian side to make peace.
Began negotiations in Stockholm and the desperate situation in which hit Army Group "North", the Germans were forced to think about how to keep control of the Baltic Sea. As a result, the loss of Narva blockade Russian Baltic Fleet was to a large extent weakened. The Soviet-Finnish truce would knock out any remaining support from the German strategy in the Baltic. If the peninsula Sursari (peninsula Hogland) and Hanko peninsula will become neutral or fall into Russian hands, they finish doing the role of traffic jams that clog the Russian warships in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland. In addition, the likely enemy control over the Aland Islands made it possible to cut off the supply of iron ore from the Swedish island of Lulea. As Russian Navy will be able to go out to the expanses of the Baltic Sea, the Germans were taken aback able to cook there own submarine, which, in turn, quite decide the fate of German submarines.
February 16, Hitler ordered the occupation of the island Sursari and the Aland Islands in the case of the configuration policy of Finland. RCC began planning operations codenamed Tanne West (Aland Islands) and Tanne Ost (Peninsula Hogland — Sursari). To perform the operation involved Tanne West 416th Infantry Division, stationed in Denmark, also airborne regiment. The capture of the island of Hogland had to be carried out by the troops of Army Group "North". It was assumed that the Finnish troops with all this resistance have become. Overall management of the operations entrusted to the RCC Tanne.
Immediately command of the 20th Mountain Army returned to the directive Fuhrer number 50 and the beginning of the development of the operation codenamed Virke. Under the plan proposed Virke army swiftly take its own right flank to the line, which passed from Kaaresuvanto, near the border with Sweden to the highway leading to the Arctic Ocean, south of Ivalo. It was assumed that the maneuver forces will be carried out in two steps. In the first step of the 36th and the 18th Mountain Corps retreat in areas Kandalaksha Loukhi Wow and to Rovaniemi. East of Rovaniemi should make the crotch limit Kemijärvi — Autinkyulya and detain him until such time as the main force was safely proceed in a northerly direction through Rovaniemi. In the second step of the 36th Mountain Corps will be redeployed to the north, to a new site south of Ivalo, along the Arctic Highway to connect to the right flank of the 19th Mountain Corps, part of the front which took place east and south of Pechenga. 18th Mountain Corps had to withdraw to the north-west, across the road
Rovaniemi — Skibotn, and the brakes at the turn of the south-east of the border with Sweden, in Kaaresuvanto.
The final step of the operation of the second embodiment could not be prepared beforehand, since it depended on weather performance. In the summer, it could be because the envisaged plan. But in the winter located on the Finnish countryside road section Rovaniemi — Skibotn was impassable. As can be seen, in the winter of the 36th and the 18th Mountain Corps would have to move north along the Arctic Highway. Next 18th Mountain Corps continued to advance in the area of Northern Norway, and the troops of the 36th Corps could be used to strengthen the turn in Kaaresuvanto.
The need to make the provisions of Directive number 50 caused the Fuehrer in the 20th Mountain Army smoldering discontent. Immediately upon receipt of this order, the army commanders indicated that the attempt to keep the northern part of Finland is almost certain to be futile, as the sea route around the coast of Norway will simply cut off, which would make unenforceable as a continuation of the carriage of copper-nickel concentrate from Petsamo and logistic supply of troops . When planning operations Virke emerged and new challenges. 20th Mountain army did not have enough strength in order to advance to a strong defense at the borders near Ivalo and Kaaresuvanto. In addition, the Germans could not start work there, for not putting a previously notified the Finnish side. The withdrawal of troops was to produce only on several roads impassable in winter and undergoing almost around the clock enemy air raids during the summer. And, in the end, in front of Northern Finland was to create in a very languid weather criteria and unfavorable terrain.
The Soviet-Finnish talks were held in Stockholm for 2-weeks in total secrecy. All this time the Russian bombers continued raids on the Finnish town. February 27, in particular a massive raid on the Helsinki attended by 300 aircraft. From February 26, entered some information on the criteria it set before the Finns Russian side, and the 28th Russian government published its requirements perfectly: 1) the internment of the 20th Mountain Army or means Finns themselves, or by Russian troops, and 2) reducing the border in 1940, and 3) the return of all of the Russian prisoners of war and civilian internees, and 4) the demobilization of the Finnish army, full or partial, which was the subject of future discussion, and 5) the payment of reparations, the size of which will be determined later, and 6) a discussion on the transfer of Russian Union of Pechenga. At the insistence of the Russian side, paragraphs 2 and 3 concerning the delimitation of borders and the exchange of prisoners of war had to be met before the armistice. March 8 Finnish government in the form of myagenkoy stated that these items are not acceptable as a preparatory conditions for the truce. It also objected to the requirement that the internment of the 20th Mountain Army, claiming that its implementation is unrealistic at the technical level. After the Russian side led March 18 as the deadline for receipt of the final response from the Finns, the 17th, the Finnish government rejected these conditions, but expressed its intention to continue negotiations.
In fact Russian requirements were more stringent than those which IV Stalin read with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at a conference in Tehran. Being rejected by the Finnish side, the Russian government has softened the tone of the negotiations and after a number of days has announced that he wants to again revise the terms of the armistice. March 26 Paasikivi and past minister of foreign affairs, K. Enckell flew to Moscow. There, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, VM Molotov announced the new conditions, which are now one hundred percent consistent with the responsibilities given IV Stalin's allies at a conference in Tehran. Namely, the Russian side refused to fulfill the requirements of certain conditions before the signing of the armistice. In addition, Russia is no longer insisting on the internment of the 20th Army.
Now the Finns had to just remove from its territory all German troops until the end of April 1944, with no danger of "assistance" by the Russian troops. For two Fri Russian side stuck to strict requirements: she claimed reparations in the amount of 60 million dollars, also insisted on the transfer of Russian Union of Pechenga. Instead, the Finns vorachivalsya Hanko peninsula, the issue of rent which has become one of the main reasons for the Soviet-Finnish conflict of 1939-1940.
April 18 Finnish side during the second time rejected the terms of Russian side. Who was the prerequisite amount of reparations that the Finns considered themselves an undue burden. Still wielding significant Russian territory and not knowing defeats the army on the battlefield, they had hoped to make peace on more profitable criteria themselves. In addition, a sense of excitement that is close to the panic that has seized population of the country in February and was the reason for the start of negotiations in Stockholm Paasikivi evenly petered out after the Army Group "North" successfully retreated to the limit of the "Panther".
In the first step of negotiations, the German government to exercise restraint, believing that the Finns are not yet ready to make peace at any cost, and that alone is a list of demands Russian side will force them to turn away from the horror of such objectives. As soon as the improved situation on the front of Army Group "North" and the growing dissatisfaction with the Finnish government offered him the criteria of the world, Hitler began to exert pressure on the Finns. Since March, he has reduced the supply of arms to Finns, and the first in April K. Mannerheim asked to convey that he wants to completely end the supply until such time as there is a danger that they would surrender to the mercy of the enemy. On April 13, Germany has been the supply of cereals in Finland, and on the 18th day of the supply had been suspended Finnish troops weapon and ammunition. Finns are not officially announced the introduction of the embargo. But its effect was felt very soon.
At the end of the month in a bid Hitler was invited by the Chief of General Staff of Finland. Then in the second time after a visit to Finland Keitel, Jodl A friendly voice told him that I need a corresponding notable statement that will recognize that the Finns supplied weapons will not fall into the hands of Russian Union. K. Mannerheim tried to boil it down to a personal letter addressed to Hitler. But anyone thinking that the message is made very usmotritelnym and diplomatic tone, refused to lift the embargo on the pretext that he longs to stuff the arms and ammunition army whose fighting ability obviously decreased.
All the winter time, as during the past 2-years in the Finnish section of the front was quiet. But in February the Karelian Front began concentrating forces at the 20th Mountain Army. By early March Russian grouping in this area has increased from 100 thousand to 163 thousand soldiers and officers, indicating that the apparent preparations for a large-scale Russian offensive, which could begin before the end of the month. In particular, the active production conducted opposite the site of the 36th Mountain Corps on either side of the road that led through the countryside of Finland Gulf of Bothnia. Russian command concentrated there till 2 new divisions and four brigades, which are supported reactive and cannon artillery. Right wing groups was extended to the north-west makarom so that he created a kind of springboard, aimed at the rear of the German best line of defense.
March 22, the command of the 20th Mountain Army concluded that the concentration of Russian troops completed and started coming should expect at any moment. Russian threat coming diminished in proportion as March drew to a close, and the time approache
d vernal snowmelt. E. Dietl concluded that Russia will move in coming, if Finns would agree to a truce. In April, he offered to perform the surgery to remove the danger on the flank of the 36th Mountain Corps and appealed for support to K. Mannerheim. Marshall declined to lure the Finnish troops to attack, and the 20th Mountain Army does not have enough forces to conduct offensive operations without the help of others, had to come to terms with the fact that the tactical advantage remains in the hands of the Russian side. So Makar, winter in this sector has not brought any visible configurations, but secretly began to feel the cooling of German-Finnish relations.