With the invasion, two reinforced Soviet divisions crossed the border in the north with orders to cut Finland in half by seizing Oulu, 150 miles to the west. But the Russian 163rd Rifle Division was soon trapped at Suomussalmi. And so, a third Soviet division was committed, pushing westward into the snow-clad forests. To halt the slow-moving column of the 44th Rifle Division, General Siilasvuo dispatched the Finnish 27th Infantry Regiment to block the Oulo Highway. The obvious spot was at the mile-wide isthmus between lakes Kuiwas and Kuomas, some six miles west of the village of Raate. On 8 December, these Finns repulsed the Soviet recon troops. The next day, the rest of the Soviet 44th Division drew up behind the stalled point. On the 13th, after several days of desultory bombardment, the Russians launched their first coordinated assault.