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Old 09-15-2020, 06:02 PM
hell-fish hell-fish is offline
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Default A New History of the Twilight War, v4.

I was annoyed to read that people were complaining that the Warsaw Pact wouldn't exist in the new timeline. It shouldn't. It died years before its death certificate was signed in 1991. It shouldn't make a magical comeback.

To lament the lack of imagination in some people, here's a new history of the Twilight War for your consideration. I did this to spite anyone that thinks the new history should mindlessly parrot the old history, even though we know that Free League is starting it in 1991. 1991 offers us a much more rich place to begin.

I wrote this in a few hours, today 16 September, with some inspiration from the guys on the Twilight 2000 discord.

I'm looking forward to what Free League comes up with in their new lore. Give them a chance before you go all autistic on them for doing something new and hopefully better.




On 19 August 1991, a Ministry of Interior Special Purpose Troops sniper killed Boris Yeltsin, the new President of the Russian Soviet Socialist Federal Republic, while he was giving a speech on a tank following a hardline coup launched earlier that morning. The next several days saw intense fighting throughout Moscow as the pro-reformers and those outraged by the public death of Yeltsin waged street battles against loyalist forces. Soviet Premier Gorbechev was pulled from his dacha in the Crimea to give a scripted speech where he offered his resignation and turned over control of the country to "the Soviet people, and their guardians of the Interim Separate Committee for the Stability and Prosperity of the Soviet Union."

That committee (Vremennyy otdel'nyy komitet stabil'nosti i protsvetaniya Sovetskogo Soyuza, or VOKSPSS) was headed by a cabal of old guards - die hards all, with healthy representation from senior leaders of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, General Staff, and the counter-revolutionary State Committee on the State of Emergency immediately locked down the Union. Anyone thought to be associated with the reformers (who came to be referred to in official press as the "Anti-Soviet People's Terror Organization") would be hunted down over the next several years and "pulled root and rock from the soil of our ancestors." Over time, this provided a useful excuse to remove any dissent or even any rivals to those in power. Anyone rolled up would labelled a terrorist and summarily disappeared without a second thought.

While parts of Moscow burned, the rest of the Soviet Union smoldered. On 20 August, Estonia declared independence. Elements of the Baltic Military District, split roughly 1-to-3 in favor of the Soviets, fought against the nascent Estonian resistance, with poorly armed guerilla bands fighting tanks with molotov cocktails in the forests outside of Tallinn. On 24 August, Ukraine declared its independence. The next day, Belarus.

On the 26th, the VOKSPSS had consolidated their initial levers of control over the Soviet government and levers of power. The Soviet press had been brought to heal and in many parts of the country every radio and television station played only the Soviet National Anthem. In an attempt to halt dissent, improve control over the arsenals of the Soviet Union and respond to additional crises, the Red Army was mobilized. In an unprecedented move all units in all military districts were ordered to their mobilization stations, bases and units. Hundreds of thousands failed to show up, but especially those in the Baltics, the Caucuses, Belarus and Ukraine. Reservists at several dozen bases mobilized but failed to follow orders from Moscow, waiting for guidance from an authority they could recognize.

NATO was terrified, both by the lack of communications from the Soviet Union but also by the intelligence of units revolting and fighting each other. Indeed, throughout the autumn the breakaway Soviet republics began to form their own military forces. The new Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which had inherited the Carpathian, Odessa, Kiev and Lvov Military Districts had so much military hardware that they didn't have enough troops to operate more than a fraction of it. This was repeated throughout the Soviet periphery, save for loyalist redoubts in Moscow, Siberia and the Far East. Loyalist units, sometimes under fire but often only under escort, repositioned back to areas under central control. In the former Warsaw Pact states, Soviet garrisons were locked down and the newly divorced host governments were unsure of how to handle their unwelcome but heavily armed guests. All too often, local authorities aided the garrisons in suppressing any revolts and desertions in the ranks. Paradoxically, those Soviet divisions closest to the west became psychologically far closer to the new, old guards in Moscow.

Critically, the Soviets were able to take control over the great majority of their Air Force and Navy and evacuate aircraft and ships out of rebelling states, often with only skeleton crews, and deliver them to safe harbor. In October, the KGB began an active sabotage campaign in areas deemed too difficult to assert state authority over, disabling or destroying most nuclear weapons and causing havoc at conventional munitions depots and airfields of rebelling states.

Throughout autumn, fighting flickered, flared, and flamed out throughout the remnants of the Union, but remained largely localized. Hope remained for international diplomacy and amical separations, and regional authorities cheerfully bussed out any people or troops who did not want to remain. More often than not these quasi-displaced people were given flowers, alcohol and tins of food and genuinely wished a fond farewell as they departed for Moscow or Kiev or Yerevan in what was later determined to be the largest human migration since the partition of India in 1947. Those bright-eyed citizens of newly independent former Soviet republics looked forward to a world where statues of Marx, Lenin and Stalin were kept in museums and not town squares.

The first to fall was Lithuania. Soviet forces in Kaliningrad, formerly Konigsberg, a Soviet exclave in the Baltic were largely immune from the upheavals elsewhere and, as Soviet citizens with no other history to fall back on - remained loyal to those in Moscow. In December, Lithuanian authorities shut off power, road and rail connections over unpaid electrical bills and in response to the landmine deaths of several Lithuanian farmers working their fields near the border. On Christmas, a patrol of the 3rd Guards Motor Rifle Division clashed with a Lithuanian militia patrol along their shared coastal border. The fighting rapidly escalated and within weeks the interim government in Vilnius had fled to Poland and the Soviet flag again flew from Daukanto Square. Thousands attempted to flee to Poland until Warsaw, unwilling to anger Moscow, closed the border and later expelled the Lithuanian government in exile. Hundreds died in the winter that followed waiting in tents and improvised shelters for their chance to cross the fence.

Watching in horror at what happened to their neighbor who dared to defy Soviet authority, Minsk was brought back into the fold through a mix of diplomacy and threats. In January 1992, Belarus reintegrated as an "autonomous" Soviet republic and dozens of pro-independence officials turned over to the Ministry of Interior for crimes against the state.

In contrast, Kiev doubled down on its efforts to ensure its independence. By March, Ukraine fielded twenty divisions through emergency conscription, nationalist volunteers, veterans groups and active service troops that defected from Soviet units. Soviet divisions began to assemble along the eastern frontier, purged of rebels and consolidated with vetted personnel from disparate units, the loyalist forces were a ghost of their pre-91 selves. On May 9, Victory Day amongst the old and new Soviets, the Soviets attempted a coup-de-main on Kiev with Spetznaz and VDV forces staged out of Minsk. They almost succeeded, but a hodge-podge of nationalists, police and elements of the three Ukrainian divisions held in reserve prevented them from taking out the new government and after several days of heavy fighting withdrew through a corridor left open for them back to Belarus. Tank battles raged in the east.

January 1993 saw a stalemate along the Dniper. The Ukrainians couldn't drive the Soviets back, the Soviets couldn't maintain a bridgehead across the river, and Soviet motor rifle forces from Belarus had almost succeeded in meeting up with those forces coming from the east and had partially surrounded Kiev. Both sides were exhausted. Kiev was nearly starving. Any other loyalist troops Moscow could call upon were tied down in the Caucuses or the central Stans, fighting islamist insurgencies funded by Middle Eastern states.

On 2 February, artillery and rocket forces of the Loyalist 22nd Guards Combined Arms Army fired eleven low-yield nuclear artillery shells and SS-21 nuclear rockets at the Ukrainian forces defending along the Dniper river near Kaniv, south of Kiev. NATO ambassadors were given 15 minutes' advance notice. The nuclear strikes hit defensive positions, reserves and supply depots along the front, and over the next 72 hours the Soviets took control of the critical hydroelectric plant nearby, cutting off 90% of Kiev's power supply and swarmed across the Dniper.

The Ukrainians held firm, though the governments of Romania, Slovakia and Hungary were in a panic. Soon NATO troops began pouring in, often established in temporary camps across the road from the old, and still largely occupied, Soviet garrisons. Poland, exceedingly conscious of the nuclear-armed Soviets along the north and east of the country and the thousands of angry Soviet troops still ensconced in garrisons throughout western Poland chose independence and isolation.

Ukraine continued to burn for three more years, with sporadic and continued use of tactical nuclear weapons by the Soviet forces. VOKSPSS continued its purges and rebuilding, with the one major reform they conceded to was the formal re-establishment and state support of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Far from being a liberalization of VOKSPSS's attitudes toward a power other than the state, the Church was instead seen to be a useful and less lethal method of maintaining the control and loyalty of the people.

International isolation of the Soviet Union was nearly total - only a small trickle of trade through Finland and North Korea was officially allowed. The anti-partisan campaigns against the predominantly Muslim Central Asia republics and Caucuses carried on. Though largely hidden from the public, the US, Pakistan, China and the Gulf Arab states funneled billions in aid and weapons into Central Asia. NATO, on the cusp of rapid disarmament following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact suddenly found itself investing heavily in new weapons and technology as the Soviet threat became more dire than ever before and the nuclear genie was definitely out of the bottle now.

The world's focus was squarely on the Soviet Union. Former Soviet client states collapsed, and a lack of resources and international political will ensured many of these regions descended into anarchy. All too often, the anarchy spread. Islamist movements in Libya, Algeria, Iraq and Syria spread like wildfire, fueled by fighters returning from Jihad in the central Asian Soviet Republics and the dispersal of weapons and money sent there originally intended for use against the Soviet forces. The forces were so focused on sending resources into the fighting, they missed or willfully ignored those times when they ended up flowing in the opposite direction.

Egypt's government collapsed in early 1997. Jordan a month later. Syria's Assad family clung to their coastal enclave by their fingernails. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein reacted to the fall of Mosul to jihadists and of the oilfields in Kirkuk to the newly independent Kurds with an invasion of Kuwait. The US mobilized forces to Saudi Arabia. Supported by Moscow, who appreciated Tehran's noninterference policy with the increasingly barbaric religious infighting, Iran invaded Iraq to remove Hussein, liberate the persecuted Shia Arabs in the south, and squash the nascent Kurdish state before Iran's own Kurds got any wild ideas. Turkey followed with their own invasion of northern Iraq shortly after, to ensure ethic Turks were protected (along with the oilfields they lived on).

China and Vietnam clashed at sea. An insurgency raged in the southern Philippines. A revolt left Mecca in the hands of Wahabbist imams, who declared that the Saudi royal family was decadent and perverse, unworthy to be guardians of Mohammed's legacy. Fighting in the Persian Gulf was getting out of hand - at one point US Marines occupied Iran's Kharg Island to clear out Silkworm antiship missile batteries that, despite airstrikes, continued to take a toll on tankers and caused oil prices to approach $200 a barrel. Economies began to lock up. Protests across the world raged.

In July 1997, Kiev finally fell. Ukraine broke. The armed forces and millions fled to the west. They were welcomed at the new borders of NATO - nearly all former Pact states were rapidly inducted into NATO after much internal handwringing, especially from Italy, France and Spain, who wanted nothing to do with the Soviets and already overwhelmed with the millions of refugees from Africa and the Middle East dragging their economy down.

In August, nearly six years after the death of the old Soviet Union and the birth of the new one, Moscow had nearly restored its borders. The embers still glowed within the shell of that old house, but the Soviet Army had become a leaner, seasoned, but much smaller force. Chinese forces were massing along the mountain passes to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and increasingly eyed the Soviet far east territories largely stripped of troops. Brushfires along the southern periphery consumed men and treasure, but VOKSPSS never lost sight of the true threat. The real enemy.

Increasingly claustrophobic, Moscow’s victory allowed it a moment to pause, reflect, and look at the new world with and more confident harder eyes. VOKSPSS demanded NATO forces withdraw from the Soviet border even before the Ukrainian flags were removed from the border posts along the western frontier.
NATO, for a time, stood united. NATO, however, was collapsing from the inside. The enormous defense outlays to maintain entire armies in Hungary, Slovakia and Romania were taking their toll, on top of all the other vast and unprecedented pressures felt across nearly every capital in the world. The Spanish were the first to begin withdrawing. The Italians started pulling out of Slovakia. The French, reluctantly, pulled their forces away from Turkey’s border with Armenia and Georgia. The betrayal the frontier states felt was deep, even with US, German and British forces still present in large numbers.

In November, Soviet forces crossed into Poland. Historians now argue whether this was meant as a demonstration of Soviet will to defend its borders and re-establish a buffer with the West or if it was as stated at the time – an effort to prop up a pro-Soviet political party following a contested election. Whatever the justification, Poland’s self-isolation left it friendless and alone. Their stubborn pride didn’t crack even as the tanks approached Warsaw. They did not call for help.

Unwilling to allow the Soviets to create a new client state on its own, recently reunified border, Germany surged across in their own invasion of Poland. NATO finally went to war. This was haphazard – spearheaded by units still largely equipped with old East German equipment – due to the rapid Soviet advance and the German desire to meet them as far from Berlin as possible. The Bundeswehr’s main combat power was a thousand kilometers away in Hungary. Caught between two armies, the Poles fought as well as could be expected, achieving surprising victories and catastrophic defeats in equal measure. Their survival was more a measure of the opposing armies desire to fight each other, rather than the Poles.

Throughout central Europe, armies began to stir. Some of them – including the two Spanish divisions in Hungary, the three Italian divisions in Slovakia and a Portuguese division in Romania were heading west. German and American forces were attempting to travel north, to the battlefields in Poland, while simultaneously attempting to cover their assigned areas of responsibility along the former borders of Ukraine. Europe was in chaos, armies were jammed, and the Soviets, never willing to allow an opportunity to pass, struck. Soviet tank brigades, refitted in the months since the fall of Ukraine, tore across the border into the distracted NATO forces.

The Czechs, who maintained cordial relationships with the west but never formally entered NATO, declared their neutrality and prevented any NATO (or Soviet, though they were still hundreds of kilometers away) forces from transiting their territory. When the Soviets encountered the Italians or Spanish, they allowed them free passage as long as white flags were visible and tank turrets rotated to the rear. The Americans, trying to plug as many holes as they could, were overstretched. The British were too few. The Germans were too distracted.

NATO’s one saving grace was that the Soviet attacks into Romania, Hungary and Slovakia were spoiling attacks only – effectively great raids to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the chaos. After a few weeks, Soviet forces withdrew, burning bridges, farms, factories and cities behind them.

In the Far East, newly reequipped North Koreans invaded the south again. American bases on the peninsula, Japan and Guam were hit with intermediate range missiles provided by the Soviets. Yokosuka naval base in Japan was hit by two rockets with chemical weapons, contaminating the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier, and removing it from the war for months as decontamination proved to be especially difficult. China, focused on Central Asia the Amur border and the new Soviet forces reopening garrisons there, launched a half-hearted attack into North Korea that bogged down in the mountains just south of the Yalu River. Beijing feared being cut off from commerce with the United States should the peninsula fall under Moscow’s proxy. Japan maintained its neutrality even in the face of hundreds of its citizens killed by errant DPKR rockets. Indonesia further cracked down on separatists in Timor and Irian Jaya – at one point even attacking into Papua New Guinea in pursuit of one particularly successful rebel group. Australia deployed forces to Port Moresby and kept a close watch on their northern neighbor.

Naval battles in the Atlantic were generally lopsided. The Soviets had a leaner, stronger Army but this came at the expense of long-range aviation and naval forces. Still, though, pre-war munitions stocks were large and Soviet air and naval forces scored some impressive victories as they tried to stem the American reinforcements flowing across the Atlantic and the Pacific. The USS Nimitz was sunk in December ’97 by a single submarine torpedo hit, which served to make the US Navy extremely cautious for the rest of the war. Two British carriers were also sunk, but by February 1998, the Soviet fleets were largely confined to coastal waters and more than fifty US and allied ships had been sunk in exchange.

In Romania, the US VII Corps pursued the Soviets across the border, followed by the Romanian army, the remnants of the Ukrainian Army and a British division. They advanced rapidly against the Soviet rearguard, but were overstretched and stopped cold outside of Odessa. Warsaw fell to the Soviets in January, then to the Germans in February, and again to the Soviets in March until finally retaken and held by the Germans in March 1998. The remnants of the Polish army were pressed up against the closed Czech border, eventually forming a defensive bastion in the hills and forests around Wroclaw, Katowice and Krakow. The rest of the country was afire. A US corps eventually joined the Germans in Poland, but a stalemate developed roughly along the Vistula through the summer of 1998.

It took NATO nearly six months to recover from the Soviet spoiling attack. In the spring of 1998 the British Army of the Danube, along with a Dutch and Hungarian corps spearheaded an attack towards Ternopil, with the intent of severing the Soviet southern supply lines to Poland. From Slovakia, a combined German-Slovak corps pushed toward Lviv. The British fell short, but the highly motivated Germans invested Lviv in June, which eventually fell in August 1998. Along the Black Sea front, the US Seventh Army finally took Odessa in May, the shipyards at Mikolyav in June, and were approaching the Crimean Peninsula by late July.

The Chinese, sensing their moment about to pass, surged across the Amur river into the Soviet Far East in July. Their wildly ambitious intent was to take control of the Trans-Siberian Railroad between China and Vladivostok and, if possible, Vladivostok itself. This would effectively give Beijing control of the entire border between Mongolia and the Pacific and force the DPRK’s attack on the south to end. Beyond that, given the crippled global economy, the real and potential mineral wealth of the Soviet Far East would help stabilize China’s economy. The almost achieved it. The Soviet forces in the far east had been stripped of forces and equipment for year and only after the fall of Ukraine the previous year had started to be recapitalized. Still, on the day of the Chinese invasion, the Soviets were outnumbered nearly 20 to 1 in any place that mattered. Though far superior technologically, the Soviets could not stand up to these numbers. The important industrial city of Khabarovsk fell within a week, and when the Chinese 34th Group Army was 15km from the outskirts of China on August 17th 1998, Beijing ceased to exist.

Three hundred Soviet warheads fell across China within the next 24-hours. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Harbin, along with dozens of airfields and ports were devastated. Tactical nukes ravaged the Chinese armies. The collapse of China was nearly instant, complete, and devastating.

The US fired back. The initial strikes were counterforce – effectively targeting only the known remaining Soviet nuclear storage and launch bases, along with any surviving nuclear early warning and command and control facilities. Unbeknownst to the US at the time, the attack was a complete success. Post-war analysis indicates nearly 94% of the remaining Soviet land and air-launched nuclear weapons were destroyed. The downside of this, however, was that a large stockpile of tactical weapons was still available, with many hundreds of them already dispersed to frontline division and army-level artillery and rocket forces. Additionally, most the Soviet Navy’s operational ballistic missile submarines were at sea, protected in heavily patrolled bastions under the polar ice caps.

The retaliation was tactical at first. US and NATO airbases in Europe, supply depots in Ukraine, ships that were wandering too close to Soviet coasts. The US and UK retaliated in kind – always tactically and only against high value targets. This went on through September and October on both sides. Millions starved in China. Millions began to go hungry in the Soviet Union. Then the city busters started hitting.

Moscow is thought to have been destroyed first, followed by dozens of other Soviet cities deep in the interior. The submarines in the bastions fired back, ravaging the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Turkey, even Mexico, Japan, Australia, Norway, France, Spain and Italy that had otherwise been only minimally involved in the war but were, by association if not action, enemies of the USSR.
The war in Europe ground on throughout that extremely dark, cold winter of 1998-1999, like a headless snake still coiled around its victim, not knowing it was already dead. The forces in the field made dude. Atomic munitions were largely exhausted by now, and surviving forces had adapted tactics that reduced their vulnerability anyways. Scavenge and improvisation were determinants in who the winners and losers in any battle were. Divisions became brigades, brigades became battalions, and battalions became companies. None of the forces fighting really had any idea how widespread the devastation was, except replacements stopped showing up and ammunition became precious. The forces made due. They scavenged and improvised. They adapted. Locals were conscripted, no matter what language they spoke. Tanks began pulling plows, as fuel was too precious for anything other than food production. Cats and dogs began to disappear from the camps.

This went on for a year. Two governments claimed legitimacy in America, but their proclamations didn’t make it to anyone who cared to hear it. France licked its nuclear wounds but managed to carry on as best they could. Chateaus lowered their old, forgotten gates. Indonesians, desperate following continuous failed rice crops, stormed their skinny, hungry bodies across shores of Australia, following rumors of food in that vast continent that proved to be all too false. Outside of Kiev, Sometime in mid-2000, the final American offensive – aimed at taking over acres of productive, unirradiated wheat and turnips, failed. The US 5th Infantry Division broke. “Men and women of the Red Diamond,” the call went out, “Good luck. You’re on your own.”
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