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Karelia is the sixth campaign in the Army General mode in Steel Division II. It has a level 3 difficulty/complexity.
On June 10th, 1944, four days after the Western Allies landed in Normandy and two weeks before the start of Operation Bagration, the Red Army’s Leningrad Front went on the offensive against Finland. In only ten days, the Red Army pushed the Finns back to the strongpoint of Vyborg, which fell on June 20th after hardly a fight.
For the Finns, it was the lowest point of the war. Only the neglected VKT defensive line remained. Behind it: a direct, open route to Finland’s heartland. If the Red Army punched through here, the Finnish soldiers knew their homes and families would be directly threatened by the Soviet war machine. By chance, the Soviets failed to exploit their earlier successes, wasting precious days celebrating Vyborg’s capture while regrouping the units for the final assault.
This delay allowed the Finns to reinforce the VKT defenses, bringing in fresh troops, including German reinforcements. With the very fate of Finland at stake, the weary Finnish soldiers found a renewed resolution to stop the Red Army dead in its tracks.
When the crossroads at Portinhoikka fell into Soviet hands, general Lagus, commanding Finland's sole armored division, immediately launched his troops in a daring counter-attack, supported by elements from the 4th and 18th Divisions. For two days, attacks and counter-attacks were launched on both sides, until the arrival of their long-expected reinforcements tipped the battle in favor of the Finns.
Having failed to break through in their main axis of attack, the Soviets tried in other sectors, but were met everywhere with the same staunch determination from the defenders, reinforced by German troops. Among the latter was Detachment Kuhlmey, a Luftwaffe Air Group which proved decisive in stopping the Soviet tanks and disrupting the whole offensive's supply lines. But every time, the Finns were on the verge of collapsing. For one more week, the Soviets tried to smash the Finns' final resistance, only to be met by a wall of fire.
By the end of July's first week, Stavka was giving up and shifting forces to more critical fronts.
Finland was saved.
- The two main objectives are located a relatively short distance from one another, however, reaching them is anything but easy. The Soviets start controlling Vyborg, while the Finns control Lappeenranta, Imatra, Borodinskoye, and Primorsk. The two side are not even remotely balanced, with the Union having twice as many troops, six times as much tanks and anti-tank weapons, and four times more artillery on top of a decisive advantage in aircraft, over Finland. As such, the gameplay is diametrically different.
- Finland needs to focus deep on the defensive. Straight confrontation with the Soviets is out of the question, as the Union has plenty of reserves and a war of attrition will inevitably result in defeat. However, falling back is not going to work either, as the Vyborg bridgehead is close to Lappeenranta, and beyond the initial VKT line defenses there's a lot of room for Soviet units to advance through. As such, the Finnish player has to focus on:
- Digging in all infantry units to establish a staggered defense, supported by mobile units so that any attack can be quickly countered with multiple battalions; no entrenched unit should be left alone, as that's just begging for trouble. It's especially important to maintain the position northwest of Vyborg to allow the 122. Infanterie-Division to deploy about a third into the game, bringing with it much-needed veteran German units and armor.
- Keeping an anti-aircraft screen over all positions, as the Soviet air force is very powerful and keeping the skies clear is essential for keeping your own, limited but powerful air force intact.
- If possible, attack from eastern or south-eastern positions. In later turns, it's likely that the opposing player will neglect the very southeastern corner of the map, allowing a relatively modest force to break out and hit the rear areas. Moving scout units (4 moves) there in advance will help the effort tremendously.
- The isolated garrison at Primorsk to the west is unlikely to break out, unless the Soviets neglect their air cover and you can give them some much needed air support. However, if the troops breaking out from the other end of the isthmus can reach the Baltic shore and cause the entire Soviet territory to roll up, granting a total victory.
- Soviets, by comparison, have immense raw power, but their problem lies in actually bringing it to bear. The vast amounts of men and materiel gathered at the VKT line interfere with one another, making it impossible to bring more than a handful battalions in contact with the Finns. Actually breaking through Finnish lines is a challenge in and of itself.
- The Primorsk garrison is essentially a cheap win that can be secured within two turns. Problems start when breaking through near Vyborg, through the mass of Finnish units there. The open spaces to the northwest are good tank country and allow for bypassing the troop concentrations and hammering towards Lappeenranta.
- The road towards Borodinskoye is heavily fortified if you attempt to reach it from Vyborg. The units allocated to breaking through the VKT line south of Borodinskoye are better suited to the task and when they break through, they can isolate a good chunk of Finnish defenders to the south and then race north and northeast down the highway network. The key strategic target there is Imatra, which also has the Finnish airfield. Dismantling the Finnish flyers will make advancing a lot easier (not to mention the victory points for taking Imatra).
- Victory: In the fateful last days of June 1944, the Finns brought the Soviet offensive to a standstill. Fighting for every meter of ground they had to give up, and counter-attacking everytime and everywhere the Soviets were about to break through their lines, they forced their mighty opponent to give up in the face of mounting casualties. Although peace would not come without sacrifices, the Finnish soldiers at Tali-Ihantala saved their country from Soviet occupation.
- Victory: Breaking through Finland's last line of defense, the Red Army reached a road network more suited to motorized operation and terrain less favorable to the defense. Acknowledging its army could not stop the Soviets in open tank country when it couldn't in the more confined and wooded Karelian Isthmus, the Finnish government finally accepted Moscow's unconditional surrender demands.
Order of battle
- See Karelia campaign order of battle and Karelia campaign unit organization