Relations between allies
World War II was in essence coalition warfare. The Allied Powers, an anti-Hitler coalition, was an alliance of states and peoples that joined hands to confront the Axis Powers, the bloc of aggressors led by Germany, Italy and Japan. The fighting raged in Europe, Asia, on a smaller scale in the African theatre of war, in the Atlantic and in the Pacific. The Soviet-German front was the main front in Europe while military action in Asia revolved largely around the US-Japanese front. The Grand Alliance, as the English-American terminology calls the anti-Hitler coalition, was an unprecedented phenomenon in world history. Countries with different socio-political systems and hundreds of millions of people made common cause to fight for freedom and a safe post-war world. The coalition was headed by the USSR, the USA and Great Britain, which discussed pressing issues of the future world besides addressing military tasks.
The coalition began to take shape in the early days of the German assault on the USSR. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt voiced their readiness to help the Soviet Union on June 22 and June 24 respectively. The Anglo-Soviet Agreement was signed in Moscow on July 12, 1941 on joint action in the war against Germany and its allies. The cooperation between Moscow and London was important to ensure the security of the Soviet southern borders. British and Soviet troops were dispatched to Iran to prevent it from siding with the fascist bloc as early as in late August 1941. In October, London forced the Afghan government to cease pro-German activities.
The Lend-Lease (the deferred payment), the program envisaging American supplies of ammunition, equipment and strategic raw materials to the USSR, constituted a key area of cooperation. The first protocol was concluded on October 1, 1941. There were three key supply routes, through the Pacific Ocean, Iran, and the Arctic. The USSR received a lot of materials during the war years, including 22,100 aircraft, 12,700 tanks, 51,500 cars, 375,800 trucks, and about 32,000 TNT. The shipments totalled $ 10.8 billion.
The opening of a second front in Europe was the most acute issue in the relations of the Allied Powers. While Great Britain and the United States considered it from the strategical perspective, the USSR regarded it as the way to save the life of hundreds of millions of people, since only large-scale military operations could make the Germans redeploy part of their forces from the east. The second front issue was raised in the summer of 1942 when Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov visited the UK and the USA. To do that, he flew on a Pe-8 bomber over the front line. However, the meeting did not bear fruit. It was only at the Tehran Conference in December 1943 that Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt managed to agree on the opening of a second front in the summer of 1944. It should be noted that that the Normandy landings, which began on June 6, coincided with the preparation for a major Soviet offensive in Belarus and the assault itself. Thus, the Germans were unable to transfer forces from east to west.
The second front in Europe naturally alleviated the German pressure on the Red Army, but it was opened at a time when the Soviet troops had already firmly seized the strategic initiative. During Churchill’s Moscow visit in October 1944, the parties agreed to divide their spheres of influence. In particular, Romania was due to be drawn into the Soviet orbit, while Stalin withdrew his support of Greek Communists. The basic premises of the future arrangement in Europe were agreed in February 1945 at the Yalta Conference, when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met again, and fixed at the Potsdam Conference (July 17 - August 2).