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This article is about the invasion in 1939. For the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1920, see Polish–Soviet War.

The Soviet invasion of Poland was a Soviet military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939. On that day, sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union did so from the east. The invasion ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union.

In early 1939, the Soviet Union entered into strategic alliance negotiations with the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Romania against Nazi Germany. The negotiations failed when the Soviet Union insisted that Poland and Romania give Soviet troops transit rights through their territory as part of a collective security agreement. The terms were bound to be rejected, thus granting the Soviet Union a free hand in pursuing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany which was signed on 23 August 1939. The non-aggression pact contained a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence in the event of war. One week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, German forces invaded Poland from the west, north, and south. Polish forces gradually withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited the French and British support and relief that they were expecting. On 17 September 1939 the Soviet Red Army invaded the Kresy regions in accordance with the secret protocol. At the opening of hostilities several Polish cities including Dubno, Łuck and Włodzimierz Wołyński let the Red Army in peacefully, convinced that it was marching on to fight the Germans. General Juliusz Rómmel of the Polish Army issued an unauthorised order to treat them like an ally; before it was too late. The Soviet government announced it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state – according to Soviet propaganda – had collapsed in the face of the Nazi German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded that the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all uniformed troops to neutral Romania.

The Red Army achieved its targets, vastly outnumbering Polish resistance and capturing some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war. The Soviet government ostensibly annexed the territory under its control and in November 1939 made the 13.5 million Polish citizens under occupation into new subjects of the Soviet Union. The Soviets immediately began a campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas. This included the NKVD-staged elections, conducted in the atmosphere of fear and terror, the results of which the Soviets used to legitimize its annexation of eastern Poland. The Soviets quelled opposition through summary executions and thousands of arrests. The Soviet Union sent hundreds of thousands of people from this region to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941.

Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were chased out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The area was under Nazi occupation until the Red Army reconquered it again in the summer of 1944. An agreement at the Yalta Conference permitted the Soviet Union to annex almost all of their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact portion of the Second Polish Republic, partially compensating the People's Republic of Poland with the southern half of East Prussia and territories east of the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet Union enclosed most of the annexed territories into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In August 1945, after the end of World War II in Europe, the USSR and Poland signed a border agreement. This agreement recognized the status quo as the official border with the exception of the region around Białystok and a minor part of Galicia east of the San river around Przemyśl, which were returned to Poland.



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