December 1941. Soviet troops in winter gear, supported by tanks, counter-attack German forces
The Battle of Moscow (Russian: битва за Москву, romanized: bitva za Moskvu, German: Schlacht um Moskau) is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km (370 mi) sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler’s attack on Moscow, capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the largest Soviet city. Moscow was one of the primary military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union.
The German strategic offensive named Operation Typhoon was planned to conduct two pincer offensives, one to the north of Moscow against the Kalinin Front by the 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies, simultaneously severing the Moscow–Leningrad railway, and another to the south of Moscow Oblast against the Western Front, south of Tula by the 2nd Panzer Army, while the 4th Army advanced directly towards Moscow from the west. A separate operational German plan, codenamed Operation Wotan, was included in the final phase of the German offensive.
Initially, the Soviet forces conducted a strategic defence of the Moscow Oblast by constructing three defensive belts, and deploying newly raised reserve armies as well as bringing troops from the Siberian and Far Eastern Military Districts. Subsequently, as the German offensives were halted, a Soviet strategic counter-offensive and smaller-scale offensive operations were executed to force German armies back to the positions around the cities of Oryol, Vyazma and Vitebsk, nearly surrounding three German armies in the process.