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Old 09-29-2020, 04:01 AM
Ursus Maior Ursus Maior is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Ruhr Area, Germany
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It seems, 2020 is the gift that keeps on giving, indeed. Giving opportunities for misery and mil-fiction that is. As for the conflict and T2k, I honestly don't think, this would make a good starting point, and here is why.

For today, Russia, while being the historically biggest supporter of Armenia, especially against Turkish threats, Moscow's interests in Azerbaijan are much bigger than what it thinks it could gain from Armenia. Azerbaijan connects to the Caspian Sea, Iran and Central Asia as a whole. Harming Azerbaijan or even antagonizing it, would harm relations with Muslim communities in the Caucasus and the greater region, as well as beyond. Chechnya is just across the border and it's a national trauma far worse than Afghanistan for the Russians.

Also, President Putin would likely not choose the alienate President Erdoğan and Turkish nationalists over this matter, because that would drive Turkey back into NATO's camp. The whole point of hybrid warfare against the West is to blur the lines, make NATO, the EU and the USA choose from several evils: alienating key allies, damaging one's own credibility or directly supporting Russia etc. Hybrid warfare stays away from everything that allows for clear blocs to be formed. The KGB apparatus learned this from the last round: if in a weaker position, don't be openly visible, but move in the grey zones between being an ally, a friend and an opponent.

In short, I don't think that Armenia will receive to much support from Russia, but Russia might wish to enforce a diplomatic solution. Yes, Armenia can play the "First Christians" card, after all, historical Armenia adopted Christianity before any other realm did and that means a lot to nationalistic and religious elements in countries such as Russia, Serbia or Greece, but Russia cannot hope to gain a lot from Armenia. It's landlocked between Georgia and Azerbaijan and both these countries are better targets for Russian hybrid war and diplomatic-economic influence politics.

As for our favorite WWIII timeline, things are complex, too. Historically, Azerbaijan and Armenia went to war against each other, right after the USSR crumbled. Now, if that doesn't happen, it's unlikely the war would have gone as bad as it went between 1992 and 1994.

And Turkey is certainly not going to intervene
  • a) against a resurgent USSR: this would be an operation across Armenian or Iranian airspace and
  • b) without NATO support, for NATO historically refrained from first strike, invasion wars, especially against the USSR.
  • c) Turkey in the 1990s was also notoriously unstable with coups in 1993 and 1997 as well as the Turko-Kurdish civil war.

Now, for an indirect approach to this, I could see more chances of success. If the USSR doesn't split up in 1991, but is reduced in power and lives through upheavals in its Western Military Districs, the Armenian SSR and Azerbaijan SSR could fight over Nagorno-Karabakh nonetheless, creating a second hotspot in the Middle East, north of Kuwait. I suppose Iraq's invasion of Kuwait would still have happened, as it started before the USSR split apart in our timeline as well.

A more active Iran could try to play a different part, if the USSR would have taken sides in the US-led operations against Iraq. Suppose, a resurgent USSR would have funneled equipment into Iraq via Syria and more openly supported Kurdish peshmerga, as well as increasing its support for the Iranian Tudeh party, to divert from its own weaknesses, then the whole Middle East could have erupted in way it did in our timeline only after the Arab Spring.

This is all sketchy and very theoretical of course, but might serve as a basis for something larger. An all gloves off melee in the Middle East with Western and Arab forces fighting a bolstered Iraqi army in 1991 and lacking support from Syria, which in turn allowed Soviet material (and small units?) to use its own soil and that of Lebanon to funnel material into Iraq. A second pipeline goes through Eastern Turkey and Western Iran, dropping off material on its way, but allowing for three routes to support Iraq. Meanwhile, Iranian and Turkish forces fight intensified civil wars near each other against Kurdish and communist (often enough the same thing) forces, making Iraqi Kurds less likely to ally with the US coalition.

At some point, Iranian, Turkish and Allied forces on their sides or Soviets on the other make to many errors and small skirmishes start spilling over. US special forces and USAF strike fighters start attacking the "Abdullah Ícalan Trail" in Kurdistan to support Turkish allies and kill Iranian and Soviet soldiers across both borders. Meanwhile, Hafez Assad grows overtly ambitious in Syria and looks towards the oil fields of Mosul, while finally trying to settle the age old Euphrates water rights arguments with Turkey.

Meanwhile Romania starts "looking out" for "ethnic Romanians" in Moldova and the post-Tito Balkan errupts into its 1990s spiel, while the USSR cannot completely hold together its Caucasus republics and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Chechnya errupt into flames.

With the regions around the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf aflame, Northern and Central Europe just loose it over pointing at each other, killing each other in not-so-proxy wars and some guy not getting a radio message to not launch something.

It's a "come as you are" war in Europe, but there are no clear goals to be achieved. It's more an eruption of over-pressured guilt, until on January 25, 1995, the Norwegian Rocket Incident happens and before it's too late, a medium-sized nuclear exchange levels Europe, USA, USSR and most of the MENA region plus parts of Asia as China joins after a "better safe than sorry" approach of the Soviet Far Eastern Military District. As everyone knew, the Chinese were not respecting Soviet borders along the Almaty-Irkutsk-Vladivostok line anyway. So they had it coming...
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