Helion's Sino-Soviet Border War of 1969 Vol 2

Author/Artists: Dmitry Ryabushkin & Harold Orenstein


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 72 pages, softcover, photos and maps
ISBN 978-1-914377-05-01

From a Western point of view, it very much appears that since the communist takeover of China, once the nation was under control, they have been fairly aggressive in terms of expanding their influence in the region. Many will today point to their unilateral take-over and expansion into disputed areas in the South China Sea as an indication of this. Perhaps this came about due to the lessons learned in 1969.

Much of the period of the first 20 years of the PRC was spent consolidating power internally, but by the late 1960s, China started border disputes with the USSR. These were mostly concerning islands in the border rivers, though not always the case. The first volume covered the background history of the Chinese border with Russia/Soviet Union and blames much of the issue on the fact that the agreed upon border was on the Chinese bank of these rivers, instead of down the deepest part of the river's channel as is normally the case.

Volume 1 covered the initial part of the fighting over Damasky Island, a river island only a few hundred meters from the Chinese side that was legally owned by the Soviet Union. This second volume covers additional areas of conflict which include the second part of the Damansky conflict. It also covers situations at Dulaty, Kultuk Island, Goldinsky Island, and the final incursion of this time, Lake Zhalanashkol.

Each of these conflicts is covered in as much detail as the authors could find. What is particularly interesting is that in these and some other smaller events, the Chinese initiated these conflicts and the Chinese lost every one of them. Also of interest is that the Soviets sought peaceful resolution of these conflicts and were initially spurned by the Chinese. At one time, there were discussions in the Kremlin about an attack on Chinese nuclear facilities to show that patience was wearing thin. Fortunately clear heads prevailed and that never occurred. When it comes to the river/island disputes, in the end, the Chinese got what they wanted, though it took many years for this to happen.

As with any of the books that Helion has published, the authors have really done their homework and have provided an excellent history of these fairly little known incidents. As usual, there are superb period photos, and a superb center section of color profiles and uniforms. It is a great read and a book that I can quite easily recommend to you who want to learn something.

November 2021

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