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Old 01-30-2019, 09:38 AM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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Default Eagle Guardian: The War of 2010 (preview)

Another new epic World War III timeline that began on Alternate Timelines called Eagle Guardian: The War of 2010.



Here are the first of several previews you can read here.

Chapter I

Early August 2008 saw world attention focused on several key matters. The Beijing Olympics were about to begin over in China and these Summer Games had seen much spending upon them with a lot of hype & expectation for their start. In the United States, Barack Obama and John McCain were in the midst of their campaigns for the upcoming November’s presidential election: the conventions for each were weeks away with running mates for each yet to be chosen. The world economy was something else paid attention to. There had been some serious issues in the West with the state of the financial markets and there was a lot of worry about how this was going to go. Alongside these matters, and a lot of other ongoing things, attention was certainly not being paid to a little corner of the world called South Ossetia.

That would rapidly change though.

Tiny little Georgia chose this time to get into a war with big bad Russia. The Russo-Georgia War was due to a long series of historic events dating back a century. Two regions of Georgia had broken away in the early Nineties following the collapse of the Soviet Union and were semi-independent from Georgia while strongly tied to Russia. Throughout 2008 leading up to that fatal August, tensions increased further than they had in many other years and led to a conflict beginning on the night of August 7th when Georgia struck into one of them – South Ossetia – in an invasion. Georgia claimed this was a police action. Russia disagreed, especially since its apparent peacekeepers there on the ground came under fire. The South Ossetians quickly took a beating yet by the very next morning, Russia was on the counterattack. Their forces from just over the mountains, inside Russian-owned North Ossetia and further across the Caucasus, pushed forward in an offensive which retook South Ossetia and charged towards Georgia proper. Moreover, through the second breakaway region of Georgia in the form of Abkhazia, further Russian forces passed through there too also into Georgia. From the north and northwest, Georgia was under attack. Much of the country’s armed forces were abroad, serving in Iraq with the American-led multinational force there. The rest of them were overwhelmed. They fell back fast and fled from a Russian assault which overcame resistance from ill-prepared men within days.

On the ground, the Russian move into Georgia was spearheaded by forward elements of the Fifty–Eighth Army commanded by Lt.-General Khrulyov. He had led exercises which had concluded only at the end of July up in the Caucasus where such an operation was practised. Those war games were followed to the letter in how the offensive was conducted. At high-readiness and knowing what they were doing, Khrulyov’s men rolled into South Ossetia and then Georgia just as they were meant to. The general was with them. His mobile forward command column went under the Roki Tunnel beneath the mountains and through the recaptured small city of Tskhinvali which was the South Ossetian capital. Close to the disputed frontier with Georgia, this collection of armoured vehicles and trucks came very close to coming under fire and being halted. It passed the scene of a localised Georgia tactical counterattack by their commandos to cover their retreat. Twenty minutes later, Khrulyov would have been caught up in this (*P.O.D*); that ambush struck a company of veteran riflemen instead of the lightly-armed command staff. Khrulyov crossed into Georgia behind his men out ahead. Onwards they went, doing what they were supposed to do. His communications back with his own commander over the mountains were patchy though there was no reason for him to expect an order to stop advancing. The advance guard of the Fifty-Eighth Army was marching on Tbilisi just as planned in those war games done the previous month.

The town of Gori was bypassed during this offensive as the lead elements of the Fifty–Eighth Army followed the main east-west running highway across the middle of Georgia when going east before then turning southwards and rolling down towards the country’s capital. Late morning of August 12th witnessed the first Russian tanks begin to approach the outskirts; they’d taken a four-hour drive across the middle of Georgia and faced delusory opposition. Yet, Tbilisi was (wrongly) expected to be strongly defended and Khrulyov was ready for that. He re-established contact his higher command to ask for extra air support – this had been rather inadequate during the war so far but he wanted anything he could get – and reported where he was. Where? He was there, that far ahead! Up at Rostov-on-Don, the North Caucasus Military District’s headquarters couldn’t believe that in such a short space of time, Khrulyov had got so far. What of Georgian opposition on the way? What was ahead of him? The Fifty–Eighth Army’s commander told Rostov where he was, where his lead combined arms regimental group was after going past Georgians running away and asked for that air support. He was promised it. Khrulyov acknowledged that – doubting that the Su-25 attack-fighters would show up no matter what was said; he was later correct in that too – and told his superior he was to going to complete his mission. Rostov gave no objection.

Within hours, Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles were in Tbilisi. The main road ran through the centre of the city and beyond towards Georgia’s southern borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan. That same highway also went to the country’s international airport (beside it the TAM aviation manufacturing plant) and two of its major military airbases. This was the route followed in a lightning advance. Tbilisi Airport was taken by Khrulyov’s men and so too was the Vaziani military base; the Marneuli military complex wasn’t reached in time. This wasn’t because of opposition on the ground but politics instead. Nonetheless, Tbilisi itself was in Russian hands before Khrulyov’s forces came to a halt. Inside the city, there were few defenders and most of them did what others elsewhere had done in the face of the Fifty–Eighth Army: fire a few shots and run. Khrulyov put two regiments into the Tbilisi fight: the second one had moved on but the first had visible control of the city where they were ‘sightseeing’. These men were with 19th Division based up at Vladikavkaz and were regular soldiers. They were here in number and strength but behaved as they established themselves as the occupier while being outside government buildings, landmarks and telecommunications sites though not going inside those nor molesting civilians. The whole world would soon be seeing them and what they were doing, so they followed orders to not to do anything untoward when in the public eye.


The war had taken the world by surprise though there were quickly many international efforts at diplomacy to bring it to a stop. Finding South Ossetia, even Georgia on a map was difficult for many. The issues were the issues but what was important was to stop the fighting. Many world leaders were in Beijing at the time it started and while some met there, others travelled either home or elsewhere. The French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, was among those who sought an immediate end to the war. He had spoken with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Chinese capital and was told that that Russia was defending itself and restoring order. Russia was the victim here against Georgian aggression. Sarkozy went to Moscow to meet with Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President. Speaking on behalf of France, but also for the European Union too due to France holding the rotating presidency of that organisation, Sarkozy made much effort into getting the war to stop. The United States was doing the same. President George Bush and his Secretary of State, Condi Rice, too wanted the war to cease. From where he had fled to at Marneuli, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was begging the Americans to save him. He wanted Washington to stop the invasion of his country. The Americans spoke of helping to fly home Georgian troops from Iraq and of arranging for a ceasefire, but this wasn’t what Saakashvili wanted. He called for direct American military intervention against Russian forces inside Georgia. That wasn’t going to happen despite some speculative discussions in the White House on how that might occur if done.

Sarkozy was talking with Medvedev and on the verge of getting him to agree to a ceasefire, with Medvedev stating that that only would be done once the Georgians agreed too, when news came that there were Russian tanks in Tbilisi. CNN was showing live footage of events there. Sarkozy had been talking with the Russian President for several days where Medvedev had told him that Russian forces were just protecting South Ossetia and themselves. They weren’t overrunning all of Georgia. Now they were in Tbilisi and doing nothing like that had been mentioned here in Moscow. Outraged, Sarkozy put it to his host that he had been duped. Medvedev denied that. He made his excuses, broke of discussions for a few hours and then came back to someone he had called his ‘honoured guest’. Russian forces were no longer advancing and Medvedev was now agreeing to ceasefire with only minimal conditions. Sarkozy took him at his word this time, believing that they had re-established trust. Rice left Brussels where she had been meeting with NATO representatives once the French sent word that the Russians were saying they were no longer advancing and she flew into Georgia, landing at Marneuli. This airbase had been bombed several days before and showed much war damage. Russian tanks were less than a dozen miles away from here too. Saakashvili met her there and Rice was convinced that if she hadn’t personally confirmed that there was a ceasefire, he would have gotten on her aircraft to try to leave Georgia. His country looked lost and he was a frightened, even broken man. She got him to talk and sign a copy of a ceasefire agreement once that was sent to Marneuli. It covered a withdrawal of Russian forces done in stages, a return of prisoners of war and an agreement for later direct Russian-Georgian talks.

The war was over with the ceasefire agreed late on August 12th, less than six tumultuous days after it had started.


While officially that was the case, all sorts of incidents took place which would be in legal terms direct violations of that ceasefire that had been agreed. Russian pulled Khrulyov’s men out of Tbilisi quickly enough though elsewhere there were delays taking place. Communications difficulties and Georgian provocations, Moscow said. There were shooting incidents of a smaller scale as well. It wouldn’t be until the end of the month until the majority of the Russian forces were back near to South Ossetia rather than far out across Georgia and with it looking likely that at this rate, it wouldn’t be until late September before the would the last of them leave the country.

Among the ceasefire violations was the Senaki Massacre.

Senaki was a town in western Georgia, close to the disputed frontier with Abkhazia. There was a military base outside of there, one which had been occupied by Russian forces separate from Khrulyov’s Fifty–Eighth Army in the form of paratroopers moving in trucks and light armoured vehicles. In addition, there were ‘volunteers’ here too. The conflict in and just outside Abkhazia wasn’t a sideshow to the Russo-Georgian War despite much indifference elsewhere to what went on there. The war started over South Ossetia yet it involved this second breakaway region too in the lead-up. As was the case with South Ossetia, recently rehearsed Russian military operations with regard to Abkhazia were directly followed. Abkhazian forces fought the Georgians inside their territory while Russian forces moved through and into Georgia proper. They advanced down the Black Sea coast – taking the port of Poti on the way – as well as inland. The Georgians fought skirmishes in places yet ran elsewhere. Around Senaki, the remains of a Georgian company-sized force of reservists numbering almost eighty men had been rounded up after their withdrawal had been cut off by those Russian Airborne Troops. These men had been disarmed and pushed into the rear where they ended up at Senaki. Guards were found for them and these turned out to be a group of Don Cossacks who were Russian nationalistic volunteers who’d come here to fight and come in a hurry. One of the Georgians tried to run from their custody and was struck down. Other prisoners joined in with a fight commencing which saw lives were lost on both sides. Without the knowledge of higher authority, the sternest of measures was taken in response. A dozen of the Georgians were selected by the volunteer militia to be shot as collective punishment. These men were taken away from the others into a separate part of the military base and the Cossacks did so with haste as they lined them up & shot the twelve men, some of which were visibly wounded too. They had no idea that from afar someone was filming them doing this while watching in shock at their fellow Georgians being massacred in violation against all the laws of war. Abkhazia and Russia would only find out later what those volunteers had done and try to cover everything up. They had no idea of the civilian who’d filmed this all from his bedroom window.

That Russian withdrawal from Georgia being staggered and done in the form that it was enraged many elsewhere. Sarkozy had left Moscow believing in Medvedev. The Fifty–Eighth Army, plus those Airborne Troops near the coast, took their time in leaving while destroying military facilities & captured equipment on the way. This was all dragged out for purposes which suited Russia. The West wasn’t able to have a window into things going on there at the top when Putin had returned from Beijing and disagreed with what Medvedev had done therefore seeing to it that what he wanted to be done down there in Georgia occurred during the withdrawal. All they saw was this behaviour where the Russians weren’t doing what they had agreed to do. The United States joined with France in condemnation of ‘Russian games’ and were displeased at what came when the Russian Parliament decided to recognise the independence of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The next day, Medvedev publicly signed a decree to complete that recognition, stating that Russia was supporting the democratic will of those people in those two regions plus its own parliament’s wishes. Questions over missing prisoners – those Georgians massacred were only known to be missing – and also deaths of two foreign journalists (one Canadian and one Dutch) which the Russians refused to provide answers to kept feelings high.

On August 31st, France’s TF1 news channel broadcast the video tape from Georgia of the Senaki Massacre. The footage had been ‘cleaned up’ a bit but it showed what happened. This was soon being shown across much of the world. Sweden’s foreign minister had recently directly compared Russia’s actions when giving passports to those in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to those people living there – done pre-war – to that behaviour done by the Nazis before World War Two to what they had called Germans abroad. Repeats of these comments were made alongside images showing the uniforms of those Don Cossacks who did look similar to Nazis… especially when giving a raised-arm salute and shooting wounded prisoners. This was the final straw for many countries. Georgia’s previously expressed concerns over missing personnel which had been brushed aside with belief that nothing bad could have happened to them were now given full attention. Saakashvili – who’d recovered from his terrible state when at Marneuli meeting Rice – accused Russian of directly sanctioning these ‘murders’ and stated that they had been done post-ceasefire too.

Economic sanctions were announced. These came from the European Union (pushed by Britain and France in the face of concerns from Germany and Italy), the United States, Canada and several other Western countries. For several weeks, these had been in the offing yet not imposed due to those disagreements on them between several countries. The footage of the Senaki Massacre drastically changed things though. They were those which would affect certain trade issues with Russia and were going to implemented in haste. They weren’t going to bring Russia to its knees but they couldn’t be ignored either. The announcement of them was made on the morning of September 15th… the same morning that the Wall Street financial firm Lehman Brothers went bankrupt as the subprime mortgage crisis in America hit home hard. The resulting panic in the markets followed and focused attention in the West on that, rather than an angry reaction which came from Moscow. Russia decried those sanctions as it did too the ‘fake news’ coming from that ‘staged’ video tape. It was all lies! It was all a Georgian frame-up! Putin, not Medvedev, spoke of retaliation with Russia’s own sanctions to be imposed too in a like-for-like fashion. Furthermore, Russia also announced that due to this Georgian action with such lies, which was thus declared to be a violation of the ceasefire agreement apparently, it wouldn’t be leaving the last areas of its self-declared ‘security zone’ inside Georgia.

Russian would stay on Georgian soil and the West wouldn’t be able to do anything about that.
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Last edited by lordroel; 02-02-2019 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 02-02-2019, 06:54 AM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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Chapter II

The protest movement that swept the streets of Russia in the autumn of 2008 was a direct result of the earlier war against Georgia. Though the war itself was not unpopular – Moscow claimed correctly that Georgian forces had fired the first shots – its aftermath and resulting decline in living standards caused deep bitterness in many Russians. Particularly amongst the younger generation, millennials who did not remember the Cold War, there was a simmering feeling of discontent.

Sanctions had already been imposed by the United States, along with other Western-bloc powers. With oil prices steadily on the decline and the world having slid sharply into a recession, people began taking to the streets at the end of September. On the 28th, the first major demonstration took place as approximately 5,000 people gathered in Moscow beneath a cold, grey sky. Under heavy Militsiya - Moscow's police force - surveillance, they marched through the streets, culminating their gathering in the city’s Revolution Square, located in the Tverskoy District.

Over the course of the next week, protests would grow in size by some number, taking place not just in Moscow but in other cities as well. Protestors came with banners demanding that the government hold corrupt officials to account, and that political prisoners be freed. People skipped work or school in order to attend the protests, but the Russian media tried hard to present them as nothing more than a minor inconvenience. RIA Novosti, a fiercely pro-Kremlin news outlet, defended the government and denounced the protest movement. An article on RIA Novosti’s website accused the movement of being orchestrated by Georgian agents seeking revenge for their military defeats the previous summer. Russia Today, another well-known Kremlin mouthpiece, aired footage of children belonging to the Young Guard, the youth wing of United Russia, marching outside the Kremlin, carrying out military-style drill manoeuvres. The video was titled “the future defenders of the motherland.” It was a display of nationalism unseen since the 1980s, in what seemed to be a call to arms for the nationalist right, which held its own views regarding Medvedev & the current state of affairs. On the other hand, from more liberal opposition groups, online blog posts and messages on social media had denounced the party, and the government of Dmitri Medvedev, as, in the words of one student-blogger, “rife with corruption and thievery.” Members of Parliament & local officials, including members of the Moscow Militsiya, were called out individually, suspected of taking bribes and stealing public money.

Truckloads of Militsiya officers armed with batons & who wore visored riot helmets and clunky body armour watched these marches take place, but surprisingly found little cause to interfere. This uneasy peace was not to last. On October 7th, the largest of the recent demonstrations took place, with the number of attendees numbering as high as 15,000 in Moscow alone. Smaller protests also occurred in St Petersburg and also in Nizhniy Novgorod, under close watch by throngs of police officers just as those demonstrations in Moscow were. As the marchers stood in Red Square,several outspoken anti-Medvedev, or perhaps more accurately, anti-Putin individuals would take turns making impassioned speeches against the United Russia Party.

Amongst them was Boris Akunin. Akunin was best known his work as a crime novelist rather than for his political work. He was a Jewish man of Georgian origin, and had much to say about the current goings on in Russia’s southern neighbour, as well as the treatment of political opposition to the regime of Medvedev, who he also accused of being a puppet for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Medvedev was accused of being nothing more than a 'placeholder' for Putin until the former President could run for the highest office in the land once again.

Gennady Gudkov, chairman of the Just Russia party, also spoke passionately. Gudkov was known for his charisma as a businessman and political figure, and his criticism of Putin – not Medvedev – drew a wave of applause from the gathering crowds in Red Square.

Human rights activist Oleg Orlov was another keynote speaker on that frosty Moscow day. He joined the growing trend of speakers denouncing Prime Minister Putin rather than President Medvedev, calling Putin a “corrupt KGB thug” with “secret bank accounts everywhere from Kazakhstan to the Seychelles.” As Orlov stepped down from his makeshift podium, police officers moved in to break up the gathering on the claim that those marching had no permit to do so. Officers wearing blue riot-gear and carrying thick metal truncheons shoved their way through the crowd. They did not attack civilians, as those standing by apparently expected, but rather they attempted to reach the speakers who stood at the front of the crowd. Protestors moved to oppose the police officers, standing arm-in-arm to block them from swooping in to arrest Orlov, Akunin, Gudkov, and other individuals who had either made speeches or were preparing to do so. What had been a preaceful protest degenerated into violence.

The policemen shoved and the marchers shoved back; punches were thrown, and then glass bottles. Police officers charged forwards with extreme aggression, trampling down civilians as they went. Batons cracked down onto people’s skulls as they attempted to flee. The sole consolation was that no gunshots were fired. At the end of the day, over six hundred people would have been taken into the custody of the Moscow Police Department. Gennady Gudkov would be amongst them, charged with “inciting violence”. Many others would receive harsh prison sentences, and nearly all those arrested were denied bail after they were detained.

There had also been two deaths in Moscow that day; a thirteen-year-old boy, attending the march with his older sister, was trampled to death by the fleeing crowd as the police closed in. The Kremlin callously blamed the boys sister for not taking adequete protective measures, and also slandered the other protestors who had not stopped to help the boy, rather than accepting any responsibility for the violence. Additionally, a man in his thirties would die in hospital after receiving severe head wounds from the truncheon of an anonymous police officer. This was claimed by Moscow Militsiya to have been an act carried out in self-defence when the individual had assaulted police officers during the riot. Statements from passers-by told a very different story. For the Kremlin, it appeared as though this was a success. Although a significant amount of violence had taken place, it appeared as though the early stages of a protest movement had been suppressed without the need for soldiers or tanks on the streets, and many political activists who might have caused trouble were now in prison awaiting trial for their actions earlier in the day. It was not, however, the coup that Moscow had at first thought. Though the protests had for now been suppressed, they would soon reignite with renewed fervour, and this time the police alone would not be enough to stop them.
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Old 02-03-2019, 01:40 PM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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Chapter III

McCain had chosen Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate for the presidency. That pick was quite a surprise and rapidly very controversial. Palin was a character indeed. She only had to open her mouth and all sorts of drama followed. Speaking in Tallahassee during a campaign stop through Florida and the Deep South, Palin commented on the deaths in Moscow the morning after the bloody end to the protests there. As was the case with many things she spoke of during her time running for the vice presidency, Palin provided red meat for the base and fodder for the critics.

“There’re killing people on the streets of Moscow and… erm… you know… someone should see to it that it is stopped.”

The latter part of such a statement was something taken rather a lot out of context later. Palin wasn’t calling for the United States to stop protesters from dying in Russia’s capital. She certainly wasn’t stating that a McCain-Palin – stressing on the second name there in some sort of joint presidency – Administration would do anything to have that stopped. No, it wasn’t a case of anything like that. She just responded to a reporter’s question with the first thing that popped into her head. The campaign with her on the ticket was already all over the place. McCain had temporarily suspended his campaigning (Palin hadn’t) last month to return to the Senate to take part in organising the multi-billion dollar bail-out for Wall Street as the financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers got far, far worse. The momentum in the race for the presidency was with Obama. Palin would say many other things in the weeks following what she said in Tallahassee and was said to be ‘going rogue’ with how she campaigned: most certainly not on script as she was supposed to be.

The furore around the phase ‘someone should see to it that it is stopped’ would be in the main forgotten by Palin’s domestic audience but it was something remembered in Moscow. They didn’t like it at all. The suggestion made in elements of the American media that Palin was saying that the United States should act to enforce its values on Russia was taken to heart in the Kremlin. All expectation was the Obama-Biden would beat McCain-Palin, which, of course, turned out to be wholly correct, but those words just wouldn’t be forgotten about. Here was the United States once again acting with supreme arrogance when it came to internal Russian matters.


In the grand scheme of things, Palin’s remarks meant nothing though. She was a vice presidential candidate for a campaign soon to go down in flames. The Kremlin was elsewhere engaged in a war of words with those in the United States who did matter: that being the Bush Administration. Bush and Rice both made official public statements following the protests in Moscow and the deaths there which carried more weight. The criticism was more precise and phrased better in diplomatic terms.

Moscow reacted with anger here too. Their own foreign minister, ambassador to the United States and UN ambassador all criticised American ‘interference’ into internal domestic affairs of Russia. The existing sanctions were once again denounced too. One of the talking heads on Russia Today then referred to Bush as “nothing but a dead man walking”. Like Palin’s remark, there was a context missed here. There was also a translation issue. Moreover, this political commentator sitting in a studio in Moscow wasn’t an official voice of the Russian Government. When he said such a thing, he meant this in a political fashion. Bush was practically a lame-duck now with the election less than a month away and his term of office ending in January. Follow up remarks about dealing with either McCain or Obama – the commentator was hedging his bets – gave the context to that phrase.

As can be imagined, when replayed for American audiences in the US media, Bush being deemed as ‘a dead man walking’ didn’t go down well. It was treated as some sort of threat in some quarters but elsewhere as a direct disrespect to the Office of the Presidency. Bush’s opponents and fiercest critics reacted harshly to such a remark. Obama called it ‘outrageous’; liberal media outlets chose this as a time to stand by their president in the face of such open hostility from abroad. However, this came at the same time though as an election was ongoing nationwide and there were already other moves being made related to the ongoing situation with US-Russia relations. There was a strategy within the Democratic presidential campaign staff to tie McCain to Bush when it came to extending the president’s unpopularity to the Republican presidential contender. Support for the Office of the Presidency didn’t come from such behind-the-scenes figures who were playing dirty. Someone senior in the Obama campaign camp got their hands on a transcript of a recording made in the White House’s Situation Room back in early August. It would be a federal crime to have possession of such a thing and no one wanted to be caught red-handed when exposing the contents. It was handed off to an outside party, entirely separate from Obama’s campaign. He himself knew nothing of the whole matter.

The Roki Tunnel Memo was leaked on the internet yet soon picked up on the major news networks. It covered speculative talk during the Russo-Georgian War about how if, only if, American military force was to be used to aid Georgia during that conflict, that could be thus done. Bombing the aforementioned transport link under the Caucasus Mountains was one of those and the part which was discussed more than anything else, especially as it was suggested that it could be done by American stealth aircraft and then denied as something conducted by the United States in the manner of a plausible deniability. The Bush Administration hadn’t moved to the planning stage nor started making any preparations to do this. It was just one of many options put on the table. The intention behind the leak was all about sabotaging McCain by suggesting that electing him would see the American public vote for ‘four more years of Bush’s militaristic interventionism’. That didn’t work. The Roki Tunnel Memo had no real effect with regards to the political situation in the United States. Its leakers were actively sought by the FBI while both the McCain & Obama campaigns (each with their own reasons) sought to have attention focused elsewhere due to it helping neither once it played out like it did.

The intelligence value of this leaked documentation was something of great use for Russia’s intelligence agencies as it was posted on the internet completely unsanitised. All those letters and numbers which looked random to the human eye and the codewords that were too all included were of interest to organisations such as the GRU and the SVR. Its leakers thought nothing of such a thing as they had their own motives as their sole thinking. That issue aside, the clear evidence that there was that the United States had been plotting such a thing as bombing the Roki Tunnel when used by Russian forces and denying that when done went down as could be expected in the Kremlin. Palin’s remarks in Tallahassee were nothing in comparison to the contents of this leak. Here was confirmation of the hostile intent and the duplicity of the United States for them to see. There was no need for paranoia: here was the evidence.
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:18 AM
lordroel lordroel is offline
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Chapter IV

Russia had won its war against the small nation of Georgia earlier in the year, and had done so totally and overwhelmingly. Much of Georgia remained a Russian ‘security zone’, in Moscow’s words, and Russian soldiers were enforcing order in those regions. Much military equipment had been captured from Georgia, and bases had been destroyed after being captured as opposed to being handed back over to the Georgians. Major improvements had been made to the quality of forces in the Volga-Ural Military District since the bloody urban fighting in the renegade province of Chechnya that had occurred sporadically throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s. Nevertheless, there were some major issues with the Russian Armed Forces that had been highlighted during the war with Georgia.

Russian command, control, communications & intelligence (C3I) assets had performed exceptionally poorly during the conflict. Had the Russian high command wanted Lieutenant-General Khurylov’s advance to come to a halt short of Tbilisi, it would have been several hours, perhaps even days, before those orders could have been received. At one point, the Fifty-Eight’s Army’s command group was communicating with higher authority through a satellite phone taken from a journalist. This was a major problem to Moscow, especially in the wake of the Roki Tunnel leak.

Additionally, analysts called the lack of air support given to Russian troops nothing short of abysmal. Russia had a large and relatively competent air force, which included fourth-generation fighters and strike aircraft, but few of these warplanes had actually been deployed against Georgia during that previous August. Russian commanders on the ground had received significant air support from attack helicopters operating with Ground Forces’ units, but the Air Force had been nowhere to be seen. Again, with the information now coming to light that the Americans had been considering striking Russian forces invading Georgia, the General Staff in Moscow reluctantly admitted to both themselves and their superiors that their own fighters would have done little to interdict such an American attack, had it occurred. As well as this, it had also come to light that many of Russia’s Su-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft were lacking the correct radar and ground-targeting computers required to effectively provide close air support while minimalizing the risk of hitting friendly forces.

Russian commanders had also neglected to efficiently use the country’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) – the equivalent to GPS – for targeting Georgian forces. Due in no small part to the incompetence of Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, the drones which had become so infamous in the hands of the CIA and U.S. Military had not been properly used to detect Georgian formations either. Russia had developed precision-guided weapons in previous decades, having been shown their effectiveness during Operation Desert Storm and the NATO campaigns over Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, the failure of Russian forces to use them against even a foe as weak as Georgia was ultimately proof to the Kremlin that Russia no longer qualified as a so-called ‘peer level’ adversary to the United States and its NATO allies. In the aftermath of the Georgia War, Medvedev’s government sought to effectively resolve these issues. Russia had a large and relatively well-equipped and well-trained military. The country relied on hard power over soft power when conducting diplomacy near its borders, and Russia’s military prowess couldn’t be thrown away over negligence, incompetence, and a lack of spare parts for equipment that was otherwise fully functional.

In the aftermath of the war, Serdukov was quietly forced to resign aside the Chief of Staff of the Russian Air Force. Both men had assumed that their jobs would be safe after such a resounding victory against Georgia, but this was not to be. In recent months, Minister Serdyukov had drafted a series of major reforms to the Russian Military, scaling down the Armed Forces by a huge number and outlawing the conscription that Moscow had relied on for decades. The proposed ‘Serdyukov Reforms’ died with the Minister’s career.

This was only the first step of a major effort to resolve Russia’s military problems. Following these resignations, a series of exercises would play out across western and southern areas of Russia. A total of fifty-seven generals & colonels were dismissed for incompetence, and seventeen other officers were arrested on charges of corruption. The Moscow, Leningrad, and Volga-Urals Military Districts engaged in a trio of exercises.

In direct violation of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, these exercises involved more than 170,000 troops across the three military districts. They focused not only on rapid mobilisation and deployment of troops, but also on practicing close air support, air defence, communications, and intelligence gathering. Drones and satellites were used to locate and identify hypothetical targets, which were then pounced upon by strike fighters and artillery. That was one thing Russia had never trailed behind the west in. Artillery had always been a cornerstone of Russian doctrine, and in the exercises which rocked the Russian countryside in the winter of 2008 it was demonstrably effective. Hundreds of rockets from MLRS systems as well as 152mm rounds from massive mobile howitzers slammed into mock targets, before air assault troops would move in, riding aboard swarms of Mi-17 and Mi-24 gunships and covered by Frogfoot and Flanker aircraft. Tanks and armoured vehicles would then smash through enemy opposition as the helicopters dropped men behind the lines. Then would come the second echelon of armoured, mechanised and airborne troops, charging in to exploit the breakthroughs.

There were, of course, major flaws in the Russian Military at the time. It had taken days longer than expected to mobilise the troops to carry out operations. Some units were missing significant amounts of personal equipment; not so much tanks and artillery, but rather small pieces like gas mask filters, radio batteries, or even ammunition. It would take time for these issues to be fixed, but Moscow was determined to properly equip its troops. These winter exercises fully exposed the flaws that had been highlighted in Georgia. Nevertheless, the performance of Russian troops during the later phase of operations could have been described as “good, but could be better.”

During the second week of operations, the exercises escalated further; men from the VDV’s 98th Guards Airborne Division practised a division-sized parachute assault to ‘capture’ a pair of airfields outside St. Petersburg. The paratroopers landed mostly on target, though some men did end up falling short of the mark due to both their own mistakes and pilot error. A trio of Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers as well as a full squadron of Tu-22M Backfire aircraft practised a large-scale missile strike on naval vessels in the Baltic Sea, along with airfields in Denmark, Sweden, and southern Norway. This was mirrored further south, with a similar mock bombing-run launched against airfields in Romania and Bulgaria. GLONASS was used effectively to target these facilities in stark contrast to its use in the Georgia War. The exercise ultimately concluded with a simulated launch of several Iskander missiles with tactical nuclear warheads; for the purpose of the exercise, the targets struck included an American aircraft carrier strike group, the U.S. Air Force Bases at Spangdahlem & Ramstein in Germany, and several civilian airports in Poland and Romania.

Not that NATO or its European partners would be informed of this fact, but these exercises were based around a very specific scenario.

In an effort to answer the question ‘what if the U.S. had directly intervened in the Georgia War?’ Moscow sought to construct a similar scenario for its ongoing exercises. A fictional country was ‘invaded’ in act of self-defence, just as the Kremlin saw the invasion of Georgia, and then there was a hypothetical American and British intervention when their warplanes started bombing Russian transportation links and launching cruise missiles from submarines. Staff officers plotted a rapid escalation into all-out war between NATO and Russia. It all made sense, strategically & operationally, in Moscow; airstrikes against NATO-designated airfields in Scandinavia and southern Europe which could have been used for operations against Russia in that nightmare scenario; a cruise missile attack against a simulated carrier battle group in the Baltic Sea; a division-sized airdrop to capture potential U.S. staging areas for troops going to fight the Russians in Georgia.

Moscow had previously judged the likelihood of U.S. intervention in the Georgian War as minimal. Sure enough, the Russian Armed Forces were not what they were in 1983, but, unlike Iraq, even in 2008 they could give the Americans not just a bloody nose, but a black eye and a few cracked ribs too! That was without mentioning Russia’s extremely large nuclear arsenal, which could, should the need arise, turn the United States into a radioactive ruin at the turn of a key. This was until the leaked memo that came from the White House surrounding American planning for operations in Georgia. Even though it had been discussed, there was never a real possibility of the U.S. giving direct military aid to Georgia. To the Kremlin, though, the leaked comments sounded very different. The idea of American intervention in future regional wars against non-NATO, non-EU affiliated countries – perhaps in Central Asia, for example – was now a very real threat that had to be addressed.

America was focused on its economic problems and on the recent election. There was concern in European capitals though. Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius were horrified. Though there had been concern in the capitals of NATO’s easternmost members during the Georgia War, none of the three country’s had expected such a sudden and large-scale series of exercises to take place near their own borders; the dropping of a whole airborne division near St. Petersburg could have just as easily been to the west of the Russia-Estonia border. In Stockholm, the exercises made Moscow even more unpopular. Sweden was not even a NATO country, and yet Russia had practised bombarding her capital city with cruise missiles. There was little that could be done though. Russia would never act militarily against NATO, or so the Baltic States were informed by the rest of the Alliance.
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