Red Army Near East moves reported (5-6-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 6, 1941)

By Ralph Heinzen, United Press staff writer

Vichy, May 6 –
Unofficial diplomatic dispatches from Moscow today reported a huge “about face” of Russia’s military strength and a shifting of large land, sea and air forces southward toward the Balkan and Near Eastern frontiers.

Although the reports contained no hint of any kind of impending Soviet military action, they were described in Vichy as revealing a general “jockeying for position” throughout the Near East from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf.

The dispatches reaching Vichy said that Russia is shifting from the Far East a large proportion of its men and materials to strengthen positions in the southwest.

A dispatch from diplomatic quarters in Moscow said the Soviet Politburo has closed the Trans-Siberian, Turkish and Tashkent-Orenburg Railroads to all except military traffic until May 15, with the exception of a few passenger trains from which all foreigners are excluded.

One of two Russian corps of reserve aviation which have been held at the disposition of the Soviet supreme command was reported to have been ordered to the Kiev military district in the Ukraine, east of Poland. The transfer, according to reports reaching Vichy, involved 1,800 bombers and 900 combat planes.

The Soviet High Command is also reported to have decided on an extensive reinforcement of its fleets on the Black Sea and the Caspian.