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Old 02-28-2015, 06:08 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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As promised: the big one....the final battle in the Lower 48, from the Soviet POV:


Finis: The End at Brownsville


Prologue: 2 May, 1989; Soviet Headquarters, University of South Texas, Brownsville, Texas



Colonel-General Pavel Alekseyev was not a happy man at the moment. His superior, and commander of the American TVD, Marshal Vassily Kribov, had gone forward on an inspection of the front, just as the Americans had launched their anticipated Spring Offensive. All over Texas, along the Interstate 10-Interstate 37 line, the Soviet front had buckled in a number of places, forcing the Soviets and their “fraternal socialist allies” back all along the front. And now he was in command, not knowing where his Theater Commander was. He turned to Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Sergetov, his aide.

“Get General Chibisov,” Alekseyev said.

“Right away, Comrade General,” Sergetov replied. He left Alekseyev's office for a few minutes, and then brought back the Theater's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Pavel Chibisov.

“Any news of Marshal Kribov?” asked Alekseyev.

“No, Comrade General. Not since yesterday,” Chibisov replied. “The Marshal had left the Gulf Front Headquarters, and was going forward to visit the Eighth Guards Army. However, according to General Trimenko, the Army Commander, he never arrived.”

“Speaking of the Gulf Front, how is Malinsky doing so far?” Alekseyev asked.

“Right now, they are holding, but only just. It is the First Central Front, along and to the west of Interstate 35, that I am most concerned about,” Chibisov said.

Alekseyev looked at his map. First Central Front had been there from the beginning of the war, and had gone from the Rio Grande all the way to nearly cutting the Interstate 80 at Lincoln, only to literally run out of gas short of its objective. The Front had fought the Battle of Wichita, only to find themselves in the role of Manstein's Army at Kursk, and had been mauled. Then the Americans had gone over to the offensive, and over the next two years, had pushed the Front, along with the remaining Soviet bloc forces in America, nearly back to the river. But it was a shadow of its former self, with units so badly depleted that they could no longer hold a proper front, and there was a serious shortage of reserves. Just like the rest of the Army, Alekseyev thought.

“I know, Pavel Pavlovitch. The American Sixth Army is going to take the Front apart. And General Powell's Third Army will do the same thing to Malinsky's Gulf Front.

Then the phone rang. Sergetov answered, then called to Alekseyev, “Comrade General, General Malinsky's on the line.”

Alekseyev picked up his phone. “Yes, Malinsky?”

“Comrade General, I regret to report the death of Marshal Kribov.”

“What happened?” Alekseyev wanted to know.

“Comrade General, his convoy was found in the rear area of Eighth Guards Army,” Malinsky said. “It appears he was the victim of an air attack. A-10s have been prowling our rear areas, and I assume his convoy attracted the attention of some,” he added.

“No survivors, then?” Alekseyev said.

“That is so, Comrade General,” Malinsky said. “We have the Marshal's body,and those of several of his staff, but a few appear to have gone off the road on foot. Perhaps they were seeking help after the attack, but they have not been found.”

“Chances are, they won't be,” Alekseyev observed. “If American Special Forces haven't taken them, the desert here will. The guerrilla threat here is not as serious as it was elsewhere.”

“Quite so, Comrade General,” said Malinsky. That was obvious. Though there was Resistance activity in South Texas, the KGB reported it had been largely suppressed. The GRU, though, disagreed. The underground was mainly lying low, limiting its activities to intelligence-gathering, recovering downed pilots, and aiding American Special Forces on their missions. There was very little armed guerrilla activity, though with the Americans pushing south, that could change at any moment. Though South Texas was not a guerrilla paradise as it had been, say, in the Ozarks, or in the Piny Woods of East Texas and in Louisiana, there were resistance groups in the area, and they had made pests of themselves in the past.

“All right, Malinsky,” Alekseyev said. “Send the Marshal's body back to Brownsville, and be prepared to withdraw to a more defensible line.”

“I was wondering when you would say that, Comrade General.” Malinsky said. “It's either that, or stand here and be destroyed.”

“Last stands are for the movies, Malinsky,” Alekseyev said.

“Yes, Comrade General,” Malinsky agreed.

“All right, then. Good luck, and let me know when you'll be ready to pull back.”

“Understood, Comrade General,” And with that, the phone went dead. Alekseyev turned to look at his operations map. “Have Malinsky pull back to a line running from Baffin Bay in the east, just north of Falfurrias, straight north of Hebbronville, to Laredo,” he told Chibisov.

“Yes, Comrade General,” Chibisov said. “And First Central Front?”

“Withdraw to the river. And I mean the Rio Grande. I'd rather save the forces than hold a line and see them destroyed. The same goes for the Second Central Front. But they are to hold the border crossings at Eagle Pass, Del Rio, and the dam at Amistad Reservoir as long as possible,” Alekseyev said.

“Right away, Comrade General. But what about Moscow?” Chibisov asked.

“I'll inform Moscow that these were Kribov's orders and I'm carrying them out. Then I'll let them know he's dead,” Alekseyev told his Chief of Staff.

“I'll get right on it, Comrade General,” Chibisov said, leaving the office to issue the orders.

“You know, Sergetov, this is only the beginning.” Alekseyev told his aide.

“Comrade General?”

“The Americans won't stop at the river this time. This isn't Vietnam, where they would go to the borders of Laos or Cambodia and stop. They'll push us back across the Rio Grande, and all the way back to Mexico City,” Alekseyev observed.

Sergetov looked at the map. Though young for a Lieutenant Colonel, he was a Freunze graduate, and had done a tour in Afghanistan in 1981-2, before going to the Freunze Academy. He had graduated just in time to take part in the invasion, and the campaigns that followed, of 28th Army, until being wounded leading a tank battalion in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the winter of 1987-88. After his recovery, Alekseyev had wanted a combat officer to become his aide, and Sergetov had been shortlisted. After a pleasant interview, Alekseyev had his man. Now, he looked at the map, turned to his superior officer, and said, “Comrade General, I'm afraid you're right.”



28 September, 1989: Brownsville, Texas. 0830 Hours Central Time (1830 Moscow Time).


General Alekseyev was on the line with Moscow. He was having a conference call with not just the Defense Council, but the whole Politburo. Most of the old men who started this war are going to be able to see it end, he thought to himself, but it's not going to be the “Triumph of Socialism” they wanted. How will they feel when they see the Army in America destroyed, and nothing to stop the Americans from going to Mexico City? He put those thoughts aside, as General Secretary Chibrikov came on the line.

“Comrade General, how long can you hold out?” the General Secretary wanted to know.

“With proper support, Comrade General Secretary, I can remain here through the winter. However, for my immediate needs, I need at least one convoy to make it here from Cuba, preferably two,” Alekseyev said into the speaker phone.

“What do you need, exactly?” The Minister of Defense, Marshal Sergei Ahkromeyev, asked.

“Comrade Marshal, I need everything. Most important of all, I need ammunition, fuel, food, and medical supplies, and for the ships to take my wounded out and back to Cuba. I can't even evacuate my casualties, and they're heavy,” Alekseyev said.

“Comrade General, the KGB Chairman asked. “If things do not go so well, how soon can you evacuate those who have assisted us in our effort? Castro has offered Comrade Hall and his government the opportunity to set up a government-in-exile in Havana, and there are others as well, whose fate can easily be imagined, should things not go as expected.”

“Comrade Chairman, there has already been a low-level evacuation of such people. However, not all of the aircraft are arriving in Cuba, my air force people tell me. There are three American Carrier Battle Groups in the Gulf of Mexico, and their fighters are getting at the evacuation aircraft.”

“Can you answer the question, Comrade General?” the Chairman persisted.

“Yes, Comrade Chairman, we can step up the airlift,” Alekseyev said.

“Excellent,” Chibrikov replied. “As for the convoys, the Navy tells me that two convoys are forming up in Cuban waters, And several of our submarines will attack the American ships, forcing them away from the convoys.”

Alekseyev paused. He turned and looked not only at Chibisov, but Rear Admrial Valery Gordikov, his Naval liasion, and who shook his head no. “I understand, Comrade General Secretary, but you must impress upon the Navy: getting this material to Brownsville is a matter of life and death. I cannot express this strongly enough.”

Admiral Dimitry Novikov, the new CINC-Soviet Navy, said, “The Navy will not fail you, General.”

“Thank you, Comrade Admiral,” Alekseyev said.

“General, you will hold out. The Party, the Central Committee, and the Politburo are behind you,” Chibrikov said. “And over the winter, you will be adequately reinforced, and with a smashing new offensive, bring about the final victory of socialism.”

“I serve the Soviet Union, Comrade General Secretary,” said Alekseyev.

“I expect nothing less, Comrade General. The best of luck to you, and those who serve alongside you,” Chibrikov said as he broke the connection.

Alekseyev turned to see his staff, and there was not a single happy face among them. It was General Chibisov who spoke first. “More empty promises, Comrade General.”

“So it appears, Pavel Pavlovich,” Alekseyev replied. “And did you notice what they missed? They didn't say 'the people.” He motioned to Admiral Gordikov.

Gordikov moved to a map on the wall: it showed the Gulf of Mexico, and the suspected locations of the American carriers. “Those two convoys will have to get past three carriers, not to mention there's a surface group believed to be off of Tampico, and considerable submarine activity.”

“In short, Comrade Admiral,” Chibisov said, “We'll be lucky if a handful of ships get here.”

“That is putting it politely,” the Admiral said.

Alekseyev looked at the map showing the battle line: His forces held a line from Roma northeast to Falfurrias, then east to Baffin Bay. Actually, it was the survivors of 1st Central Front, which had been split, along with Malinsky's Gulf Front, that was holding that line. And opposite them was General Colin Powell's U.S. Third Army. He then looked over to the west: the U.S. Sixth Army was holding the line from Laredo all the way north to Amistad Reservoir, and then all the way to El Paso. But one American force was conspicuous by its absence: General Norman Schwartzkopf's U.S. Fifth Army, which had fought the Battle of Wichita, and had led every major U.S. offensive south since. Alekseyev turned to his intelligence officer. “And where is General Schwartzkopf?”

“Our information is sketchy at best, Comrade General,” the man replied. “What little information we have suggests his army is in reserve, around San Antonio.”

“So what's he doing there?” Chibisov asked.

“We're not sure, Comrade General. He may be resting and refitting his forces, before coming to join Powell's forces. Or...”

“Or what?” Alseksyev demanded.

“Or, he may pass through the Sixth Army and attack south,” the intelligence officer replied.

Both Alekseyev and Chibisov looked at the map. Either Schwartzkopf would spearhead an invasion of Mexico, and both knew that from the GRU's monitoring of the CNN news channel, there was considerable discussion in the American media about such an operation “to settle scores with the Mexicans and send the Russians back where they came from.” Or, as Chibisov said, “He may do that, and seal our fate at the same time.”

“All right, Chibisov, how would you do it?” Alekseyev asked.

“I would send the Fifth Army south, via Laredo, and first, make a demonstration move on Monterrey: it is a key supply center, and is the largest city in Northern Mexico. Then I'd turn east, and not go south. My next stop, barring terrain and whatever defenders are in the way, is the shoreline. He doesn't need to take cities like Reynosa or Matamoros: just cut them off, and that cuts our supply lines to the south. That, and the American naval blockade, seals our fate.”

“Just like Paulus,” Alekseyev's operations officer said.

Alekseyev looked at the man, intending at first to reprimand him. But then he realized the man was right. He turned to Chibisov. “How long can we hold, if those convoys don't arrive?”

“About a week to ten days, Comrade General. Maybe less.”

Alekseyev digested the news. “Comrades, thank you. Chibisov, a moment, please.”

Chibisov waited as the staff filed out. “Comrade General?”

“I'd like to speak to our commanders: get them here. Malinsky, his army commanders, and who's running the right flank of 1st Central Front, now that they've been split in two?”

“That would be Lieutenant General Starukhin, Comrade General,” Chibisov said, his voice not hiding his disgust for the man. The two had a long history, Alekseyev knew, and both heartily despised the other. Chibisov was a very secular Jew, while Starukhin was known as a brutish thug, even among his own men. He had commanded 3rd Shock Army from the beginning of the war, having brought it over from GSFG, and had been impaled at Wichita. He'd blamed Chibisov for that. A second mauling at Midland-Odessa only made things worse between the two, and it had been so bad that both wanted to settle things with a duel, and only Marshal Kribov's intervention had prevented it.

“As much as I can't stand him myself, get him here. What's left of 3rd Shock Army and the Cuban 2nd Army can do without him for a few hours,” Alekseyev said.

“Yes, Comrade General.”


A few hours later, the senior Soviet and Soviet-Bloc commanders arrived at Alekseyev's headquarters. The assembled generals filed into a lecture hall, which Kribov and his predecessor had used for briefings. From a side entrance, Alekseyev looked at the officers. Tired Soviets, nervous Cubans, frightened Nicaraguans, pale East Germans; if the Politburo could see this, instead of what they want to see, they'd cut a deal with the Americans and their allies. But he would do his duty until he could do no more, and so would those under him. Before he went in, Admiral Gordikov had a message from Havana for him. The first convoy had left Havana, and was waiting until nightfall to leave Cuban waters.

“Good, Gordikov,” Alekseyev said. “The big question is: How many of those sixteen ships will make it?”

“We'll know in forty-eight to seventy-two hours, Comrade General.”

“Thank you, Admiral.” Alekseyev said. Gordikov nodded. He noticed that Alekseyev hadn't said “Comrade Admiral” and to him, that signaled just how Alekseyev felt about this business. And in a way, it mirrored his own feelings. And then Alekseyev entered the hall, followed by his staff, and everyone came to attention.

“Please sit down, Comrades,” Alekseyev said. “You all know why you're here. We are living on borrowed time, and that time is running out. Unless the Navy is successful in one final effort to supply us, things here will be over in the space of a week.”

There was a lot of murmuring among the officers. Malinsky, though, was silent. He already knew, as did his own Chief of Staff. “Comrade General, it's that bad?” asked Major General Yuri Petrov, who commanded what remained of the Soviet Air Force in Texas.

“Yes, Petrov, it's that bad,” Alekseyev said. “Now, Comrades, the war in this part of North America is going to be over in a matter of days, unless those convoys arrive. If they don't....I'd like your opinions. And feel free to speak your minds on the matter. General Malinsky?”

Malinsky stood. He'd been a divisional commander in the initial invasion, and then had been promoted to run 11th Guards Army in Arkansas and Missouri during the Spring-Summer 1986 Offensive. After Wichita, and the American counteroffensive, he'd fought well during the retreat into Texas. After Gulf Front had been taken apart during the 1988 American offensive, Marshal Kribov had put him in command to rebuild the Front. He was now in command of the only major Soviet combat force left in the Continental United States, and he knew what he could do. He also knew what he could not do.
“Comrade General, this war has gone on long enough. Enough good Russian boys have died here, far from home. And our own forces have not conducted themselves in a manner that would win any kind of award for humanitarian behavior. If, and I do mean if, we can no longer be supplied or reinforced, then we must end this. I am responsible for my men, and I want to see them get home. And get home alive.”

Lieutenant General Starukhin stood up “What you are saying, Malinsky, is defeatist!”

“Calm down, General,” Chibisov said. “You will be heard.” He looked at Malinsky. “Please continue, Comrade Front Commander.”

“I believe I have made my point, General Chibisov,” Malinsky said as he sat down, staring at Starukunin.

“Very well, Malinsky,” Alekseyev said. “General Starukhin, you have the floor.”

“Thank you, Comrade General,” Starukhin said. “I have led Third Shock Army from the beginning. From crossing the Rio Grande, to rolling through the prairie of Texas and Oklahoma, into the plains of Kansas. I saw my army cut to pieces at Wichita, a battle that was the Americans' Kursk. And the result was a disaster for us. My army made it back to Texas a shadow of its former self, and only after a painstaking rebuilding process, went into action again. Only to see it shattered again at Midland-Odessa!” He said, glaring at Chibisov. “If we are to die here, then let us die fighting, as Soviet soldiers should!” Starukhin shouted.

There were murmurs again in the hall. “Calm down, Comrades!” Chibisov said. He looked at Alekseyev, who nodded. “General Trimenko?”

Major General Gennady Trimenko commanded the 8th Guards Army, or what was left of it. He was in a vulnerable position, because on his right flank was the Nicaraguan II Corps, and he knew that they were in no shape to hold off a determined attack. And he also knew that the Americans knew it as well.
“Comrade General,” he said, pausing briefly. “I agree with General Malinsky. Though I am proud of my uniform, and my service, there comes a time when things become pointless. I, too, am loyal to my men. And I want to get them home. And if that means a stay in a comfortable American POW Camp, so be it. At least we'll all be alive.”

Starukhin glared at him. He began to rise, but seeing Alekseyev and Chibisov staring at him, thought better of it. Alekseyev spoke next. “Your thoughts are noted, General. General Sanchez?”

General Juan Sanchez commanded the II Nicaraguan Corps, the last major Sandinista force left in the field. “Comrade General, my corps is in very bad shape. Supplies are running low, as I believe they are everywhere,” Sanchez said, pausing to see the nods. “And desertion is becoming a major problem. Not deserting behind the lines, but deserting to the enemy. It's no longer a question of a few weak individuals: it's groups of ten, twenty, or more. My men are tired. They're exhausted, and clearly have no more stomach for this. All they want now is to go home. It is time. As our opponents say, 'cut a deal.'”

“I see.” Alekseyev said. “General Rybikov?”

Major General Yuri Rybikov commanded the 28th Army: he'd had the job since his predecessor had simply given up and shot himself. He'd also survived the resulting purge of the Army's command structure, and had no love for the KGB as a result of that-and that his brother, a divisional commander in Alberta, had been “retired” by the KGB a year earlier for supposed “counterrevolutionary tendencies.” He stood. “Comrade General, I imagine my brother was shot for saying just those words. It pleases me that he was right, and if he was here with us, he would be honored to be in the company of men such as this. General Sanchez is right. We must cut our losses and end this madness. Before any more lives-on both sides-are lost. This mad business has gone on long enough!”

“I agree, General Rybikov,” Trimenko said. “There must come a time to end this.”

Starukhin stood up again. “It will end, over our dead bodies! What you propose is defeatist treachery!”

“Sit down, General.” Alekseyev said coldly, and Starukhin did so. “General Metzler?”

Major General Gerhard Metzler commanded the East German “Kampfgruppe Rosa Luxembourg.” the remnants of two East German divisions and the 40th Air Assault Regiment-which was only two weak battalions of weary men. “Comrade General,” Metzler said in flawless Russian. “I am loyal to my soldiers. We will do our duty until we can do it no longer. And then we will end this madness. While I do agree with General Starukhin in some respects, I also agree with Generals Rybikov and Trimenko: there will come a time when we can do nothing more. Fight until our ammunition is exhausted, and only then seek a cease-fire.”

“That may come sooner than you think, Metzler,” Trimenko said.

“I realize that, General. But there are other considerations. Such as one's family back home.”

Everyone knew what Metzler was talking about. The KGB would easily arrest the families of any senior officer who even suggested an end to the war. And word had come back from Moscow that a number of generals' families had been arrested for the sins of the general himself. Though Metzler was East German, the Stasi would do the same to his family, and they would do so without regret or remorse.

“General Metzler makes a valid point, Comrades,” Alekseyev said. He nodded to a Cuban general. “And General Vega?”

General Carlos Vega commanded the Cuban 1st Army. They had been the first Soviet-bloc forces into Mexico, and had spearheaded the invasion in this part of Texas. Vega's army had fought from the Rio Grande to the bayou of Louisiana, and had been mauled in the Americans' Summer Offensive in 1988 along the Gulf Coast. His men, though weary, still had some fight in them. Though there was a major concern, as he was about to say. “Comrades, as much as it pains me to say this, I agree with Generals Rybikov and Trimenko. I am concerned about Cuba. My homeland is also threatened with invasion. If the Mexicans quit the war, as is very possible, my men will have no way to return home. If we are to die, we would rather die in the defense of our homeland, not in a foreign land, where we are all despised-and not just here in Texas: the problems with counterrevolutionary elements in Mexico interfering with our supply lines are proof of that.”

“So what would you do, General Vega?” Chibisov asked.

“Withdraw south of the Rio Grande. Give up this adventure in America, and perhaps I can find a way to transport my army to our homeland, where we can prepare for the final battle.”

“A valid point, General,” Chibisov noted. He turned to General Alekseyev “Perhaps that is a viable alternative, Comrade General?”

“Perhaps, Chibisov,” Alekseyev said. He motioned to his airborne and air-assault commander. “Let's hear from General Andreyev next.”

Lieutenant General Georgi Andreyev commanded the 76th Guards Air Assault Division, and was the senior VDV officer in the pocket. Not only was he responsible for his division, and the battered 105th Guards Air Assault Division, but he also commanded an ad hoc grouping of army-level air assault battalions that had been mauled in the retreat south. And his own division was at only 50% strength, and the 105th Guards less than that. But they were the toughest and most determined troops available to Alekseyev.

“Comrades, I have led my men from the front since the beginning, with the drop into Colorado. My troops have fought in every major campaign since. We have done everything asked of us, and more. Now, I am faced with a choice: continue a losing war, or save the lives of my men. Comrade General, this must end. The sooner the better. Unlike my comrades in the Tank or Motor-Rifle troops, I know many of my soldiers, and I have written all too many 'sad duty to inform you' letters to wives and parents. The slaughter has gone on far enough. That should explain my views sufficiently.” He looked at Trimenko and Rybikov. Both nodded, as did the Nicaraguan and the General Metzler. And Starukhin glared at him.

“Thank you, General. Last, General Suraykin,” Alekseyev said.

Lieutenant General Piotyr Suraykin commanded the 4th Guards Tank Army, or what remained of it. It had been four tank divisions and a Motor-Rifle division. Now, there were two tank divisions left, battered remnants of two others, and a Motor-rifle division that was more the size of a regiment. His Army was Alekseyev's reserve, and Alekseyev, as did Kribov before him, trusted Suraykin's judgment. “Comrades, I agree with the majority here. My men have done all that has been asked of them, and for what? All too many of them lie buried on foreign soil, never to see Russia again, and many others have been maimed-too many for life. Pretty speeches in Moscow hide the reality: this war has been lost for some time. And our soldiers have paid the price for this folly. It is time to end this. And if that means going into American captivity, better that than a grave far from home.”

“Your position is noted, General,” said Alekseyev. “Now, Comrades, whether the views expressed by the majority, or those of General Starukhin, prevail depend on the Navy. Our Comrades in blue are making one final effort to supply us. If the two convoys get through, we may be able to hold out a while longer. If not...I will consider what options are available. Thank you for your views, Comrades, and good luck in the struggle ahead.”

The generals got up to leave. But Alekseyev wasn't finished with one of them. “General Starukhin, a moment, please.”

The other generals left the hall. “Comrade General?” Third Shock's commander asked.

“General, I know your record. You're a hard charging, aggressive commander. And I have a mission for one of your qualities. A mission that calls for determination, aggressive conduct, and ruthlessness.” Alekseyev said.

“How may I serve the General?” Starukhin asked.

“Your new assignment is to secure our supply lines to the south. As was mentioned by General Vega, the counterrevolutionary elements in Mexico are making our supply efforts difficult, at best. And the Americans' special operations effort is only adding to the problem. You may use whatever methods necessary to keep the roads open, and you will answer only to me. Is that clear?”

“Comrade General, I would rather make one final attack, instead of this...” Starukhin replied.

“I understand, General. However, whether this army lives or dies may depend on your efforts. I need an officer of your qualities for the assignment, and no others are available,” Alekseyev said.

“What forces are available?”

“You'll have three motor-rifle brigades, all units with good records in Afghanistan, and a pair of Cuban brigades. How you use them to keep the supply lines to Tampico and Vera Cruz open is up to you,” Alekseyev told Starakunin.

“I will not disappoint you, Comrade General.”

“Good. And the best of luck to you in your new command. Turn your grouping over to your deputy commander, and proceed to our rear-area headquarters in Monterrey. Transport will be available there to get you to Tampico.” Alekseyev said.

“I serve the Soviet Union!”

“Good. I expect nothing less from you. And good luck.” Alekseyev said.

Starukhin saluted and left the hall, leaving Alekseyev, Chibisov, and Colonel Sergetov. It was Sergetov who spoke first. “Comrade General, knowing his temper, I expected him to shoot someone.”

“I know, Ivan Mikhailovich,” Alekseyev said. “But at least he's out of our hair, and is now the Mexicans' problem.”

“Well, that's over, Comrade General,” Chibisov said. “Now it's up to the Navy.”

“We'll know soon enough, Pavel Pavlovich,” Alekseyev said.
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