In May 1945 Marshall Georgy Zhukov returned back from Germany to Moscow at Stalin’s request. Stalin was worried because he noticed that the British maintained in cooperation with German troops, instead if disarming them and sending them to prison.
Stalin was suspicious about these actions of Britain, because they were not in compliance with intergovernmental agreements and he believed in secret intentions of Churchill. It became obvious that Stalin’s suspicion was reasonable, when the Soviet intelligence discovered the content of Churchill’s secret telegram to the commander of British forces, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. The telegram with instructions to keep German troops capable of fighting for the purposes of reacting to the Soviet offensive, confirmed Stalin’s doubts.
Zhukov bitterly commented on this new development, during the Allied Control Council, clearly stating that these actions are pure betrayal. Montgomery denied everything at first, but after a couple of days he confessed his involvement in the actions described in the telegram. He used his status of a soldier as an excuse for not being able to refuse participation in activities against the ally.
After Churchill realized that Germany was almost defeated, he saw the new worldwide threat in the Soviet Union. This is why he wanted to stop the Soviet offensive and to make sure that Berlin is taken by Anglo-American troops, Czechoslovakia and Prague freed by Americans, and Austria under the control of all allies on equal terms.
In April 1945, the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff got a new task – to prepare the Operation Unthinkable. Churchill wanted to formulate two related plans of a conflict between the Western allies and the Soviet Union.
The plan was to strike the Soviet Union from behind as soon as the war against the Nazi Germany is over. A potential attack date was July 1, 1945.
According to the plan, allies intended to invade and occupy the Soviet territory and to disable their armed forces in order to prevent them from fighting. The British Chiefs of Staff Committee believed that the plan was impractical because of the superiority of Soviet land forces in Europe and the Middle East. This is why Churchill had previously kept the combat capability of the German troops, he was going to use them against the Soviet troops.
The War Cabinet stated that the Russian Army was very skilled, with experienced High Command and improved equipment. Not just that their equipment was improved, but it was so good that in some cases Germans copied some qualities of Russian armament.
The British planners concluded that their plan was not ideal and it had no good chances of success. Their invasion would take long and it would cost a lot. They were also aware of the fact that the Soviet troops had numerical advantage. Additionally, there was a possibility that the Americans give up on this invasion and focus on the Pacific war.
Churchill was hot happy with this final conclusion, but the Red Army was obviously powerful.
However, Harry Truman, the new American President, had slowed down the Russian military actions by threatening with economic sanctions during the meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.
On May 8, the US President ordered the US ships with the military aid headed to the Soviet Union to return back to the US. This order to reduce the military aid was soon cancelled, because the US needed the help of the Soviet Union against Japan. However, previous events affected the bilateral relationship between these two countries.
Acting Secretary of State Joseph Grew stated in his memorandum from May 1945 that the war with the Soviet Union was unavoidable and that the best time to do that was before the recovery of the USSR from war against Germany.
In August 1945, General L. Groves, the head of the US nuclear program received a map of strategic targets in the USSR and Manchuria. The map with 15 largest cities of the USSR on it, came with a detailed description of the potential targets.
This was the moment when the new front was opened and when allies took opposite sides.