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In August 1939, the Soviet troops, led by the then unknown Commander Georgy Zhukov, inflicted a crushing defeat on forces of the Kwantung Army of Japan in the Mongolian steppes during the Battle of the Khalkhin Gol River, thereby changing the direction of Japanese expansionism towards Pearl Harbor and the Asian colonies in Europe. The Battles of Khalkhin Gol, which began two years before the fascist invasion of  the USSR, is rightly seen as one of the forerunners of the Soviet military successes in Europe during World War II. Having suffered a serious setback, militaristic Japan lost all hope of capturing Siberia and the Far East over a short-term perspective and focused on the Asia-Pacific theater of operations.