From Our Russian Correspondent The relations between Britain and Japan have become so acute that in view of a possible clash one naturally wonders as to the assistance the U.S.S.R. could give in the Far East.
The new commander lost no time in replacing the entire command by his own men. He also redistributed the Far Eastern army. A first army of 120,000 under Stern himself is stationed on the Korean border. A second army of 104,000 men, commanded by Konev, occupies the regions of Khabarovsk and Bingoveschensk on the Manchurian border. This army is qualitatively inferior to the first, and several units, considered unreliable, have been moved to the interior.
An army of reserve under commander Yakovlev, 60,000 to 70,000 strong, occupies the Trans. Baikal region, whilst Outer Mongolia
has an Army of 130,000 under a special _commander whose name is kept secret. His headquarters are at Ulan Bator (Urga).
Altogether Soviet Russia can dispose of an army of 600,000 in the Far East. This is more than Japan can spare for the Manchukuo and Mongolian fronts, but the advantage is on the Japanese side as the Soviets have to defend a very long frontier line, and a Japanese thrust into Outer Mongolia and the Baikal region could cut through the vital artery of the whole Far Eastern Army.
At Vladivostok, Soviet naval forces are negligible and a landing of Japanese forces there could scarcely meet with any resistance from the Soviet Navy. Such a landing, however, would entail great risks, unless the land forces and formidable forts were first destroyed.
Therefore it is Mongolia which will probably become the battlefield and the renewed air battles which have taken piece there have a particular significance.
Mr Dalton, Reuter's special correspondent, who was on the spot during the Soviet air attack of May 38, has confirmed that the Soviet Air Force lost 50 planes, and when armoured care and Mongolian cavalry attempted a diversion they were repelled with losses.
Soviet airmen have manifested efficiency and courage in Spain and China, but these were a small body of picked men; the average pilot is inferior. This lack of personnel has been stressed by Colonel Lindbergh. There are fifteen factories producing 1,000 planes per month, but there is great difficulty in finding qualified mechanics.