Much has been made of the fact that the area around the Caspian Sea was oil rich. Specifically, west of the Caspian Sea, with Soviet oilfields at Maikop, Grozny, and Baku, which were threatened by the Germans, but not captured, except for Maikop.

There was also oil (in Iran) south and east of the Caspian Sea, that was less threatened, and the Soviet Union occupied northern Iran. This oil could have been transported on the eastern bank of the Caspian Sea.

What was the state of Iranian oil production/supplies at the time? Were there alternate sources of oil from Iran available to the Soviet Union in the event that that Germans occupied, or at least interdicted production from the Caucasus, but went no further than that?

  • very similiar to a previous question you asked here history.stackexchange.com/questions/8512/… , but I guess you are looking to Iran more-so in this question. Maybe alter the question title to include Iran oil specifically? I believe Siberian oil could have been an alternate source, though development is slow due to weather.
    – Twelfth
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


Not quite sure if this is a full answer to the question, but will try anyway.

Iran has an interesting position in this war as they were kinda neutral yet pro-german at points...both the Soviets and British had identified the chance of a pro-german coup in Iran. Baku, an oil field in present day Azerbaijan, was actively sending fuels to Germany prior to the war. However in March 1940 the soviets launched a full scale invasion of northern Iran and took Baku and it's oil fields.

The British also invaded (potentially with the support of the US) and attacked Iran, seizing the oil fields of Bander-I Shahpur and Abadan, destroying Irans fleet and air power in the process (The Shah in Iran compared Germany/Russia invasion of Poland to what the Allies did to Iran, the invasion was rapid and the spoils were quickly divided). I assume these are the oil fields you talk about to the south of the Caspian.

Not sure on how accurate this source is here, but it will suggest that Russia and the Allies nearly went to war themselves over Iranian oil. http://www.changingthetimes.net/resources/iran_in_world_war_two.htm

Perhaps fortunately, the allied plans for a grand anti-soviet/German strategy collapsed when Finland did. Those plans included using bombers to attack the USSR, which would have almost certainly have provoked a soviet attack on Turkey and Iraq, causing massive disruption to the British Empire and their probable defeat. Further, the pathetic success rate of unguided bombers in 1939 suggests that, even if Stalin did not order retaliation, they would only hit empty land.

Despite this collapse, the soviets continued to move forces into the Baku region in March 1940. These forces were formidable, five infantry divisions, one tank division, a cavalry division and two light tank divisions. This new army group had about 200’000 men and nearly a thousand tanks. The soviets used this force to intimidate Iran, which the Germans gleefully noted, and then tried to lure Iran into a German alliance. However, the Germans soon had other problems, as their attack on France soon caused her collapse and with her, much of the remaining allied strategy. Worse, soviet pressure on Iran intensified to a point in which Britain first considered breaking Iranian neutrality and occupying or destroying the oil refineries.

Stubbornly, the Shah refused to compromise with Russia, despite the Iranian military realising that a defence of the soviet target areas was impossible. However, Stalin reduced pressure in August, apparently out of the concern that the British might attack the soviet oil wells if he invaded.

As a simplistic answer:

Were there alternate sources of oil from Iran available to the Soviet Union

Not really due to British involvement. By the time Hitler attacked Russia, these oil fields were in British hands. I believe the same goes with Iraqi oil fields further south.

If Russia lost it's Baku oil, I believe Siberia might be the only remaining option.

A second source for verification. http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/World-War-II-Anglo-Soviet-Invasion-of-Iran.htm

  • 4
    ? Baku was in Russian and later Soviet control since 1813, with only a brief period of Turkish occupation and independence in the late 1910s. The SU took control of a small part of North Iran during the war, but it was not Azerbaiyan. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baku
    – SJuan76
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 8:29
  • 1
    @SJuan76 It is funny, but there are regions that are named Azerbaijan, too. ontheworldmap.com/iran/administrative-map-of-iran.html. East and West ones.
    – Gangnus
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 14:09
  • The northerneastern part of Iran is indeed named Azerbaijan, too. You may compare this to the situation around Macedonia (except the ethnic situation in Macedonia is less complicated). Anyway SJuan76 is correct, Baku is not in Iran and was not In Iran in 1940
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 15:19

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