The Southern Flank D+12 (21 July, 1987)


D+12 was a relatively quiet day on the Southern Flank, all things being equal. An intermission of sorts, with some participants exiting the field as others prepared to make their entrance. Whereas the combat in more northern areas of the European continent was constant and ferocious, the same did not hold true for Southern Europe, and the Mediterranean. Most of the fighting here took place at sea and in the air, and the intensity ebbed and flowed. NATO and the Warsaw Pact both recognized by this time that World War III was not going to be won or lost on the Southern Flank. But the conflict was entering a new stage where events on the flanks would have the potential to affect the outcome.

The commander of the Southwestern TVD, General Ivan Gerasimov had arrived in Moscow the previous night. After being afforded a couple of hours to shower, and rest, he was summoned by the general staff and presented Southwestern TVD’s plan for its offensive phase. The offensive phase was centered on ground operations starting with two separate drives into Thrace from Bulgaria. The western advance would move into Greek Thrace, and hopefully divert NATO’s attention away from Turkish Thrace, where the eastern advance would come six hours later. Twelve to eighteen hours after the advances were underway, Soviet naval infantry would stage an amphibious landing to seize the Bosporus. Airborne landings to capture the Dardanelles were to follow, placing the gateway to and from the Black Sea entirely in Soviet hands. Gerasimov explained a handful of proposed changes he wanted to make to the plan. He stressed the importance of airpower in the offensive phase, and explained the need for more warplanes in the south to replace combat losses and insure Soviet airpower would be able to support the ground advance, and perform other missions essential to the overall success of operations in the Southwestern theater.

The plan was approved by the General Staff after a short deliberation and Gerasimov was on his way back to Kiev by 1000. The offensive phase would begin in 48 hours.


In Belgrade, the Yugoslavian government was trying to keep a lid on its restive republics. Croatia continued to lean dangerously towards declaring independence despite the growing amount of overt military pressure the federal government was putting on it. By this point the cat was out of the bag. The independence question would not be decided upon in Zagreb until NATO’s position on the issue was made clear. As it waited for Brussels, Croatia’s government sought to buy time and keep Belgrade, and the Yugoslavian military at arm’s length.

Slobodan Milosevic was not having it, though. As the day went on, the Yugoslavian show of force around Croatia was transforming into a military occupation. Armor and infantry of the Yugoslav People’s Army were entering some of the larger towns in eastern Croatia, and a large column of tanks and armored personnel carriers was sighted moving towards Zagreb.

Finally, in the late afternoon, Croatian leaders received an answer from. NATO, as a supra-national body, as well as its member-states individually, would recognize Croatia diplomatically if it declared independence. Yet there was no guarantee of military assistance. This was not the answer Croatia’s pro-independence leaders had been hoping for. Still, it was better than nothing and with time running against them now, a decision had to be made.

As 11 PM approached, a motion for Croatia’s immediate separation from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was put in front of the Croatian parliament.

At 11:45 PM the Republic of Croatia came into being.


Author’s Note: This post was going to be short originally. Unfortunately, work has intervened on the COVID-19/Cancer Recovery ‘vacation’ I’ve been on and I had to shorten it a little more. Thanks, Kim Jong Un. As always, my apologies and FYI the future schedule of postings should remain stable, even if North Korea doesn’t. 😊  –Mike

6 Replies to “The Southern Flank D+12 (21 July, 1987)”

  1. I am waiting to see how Greek Leo1 will cope against the Soviets tanks in Western Thrace. We had 105 Leo1 by 1987, besides the M48s and M60s

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Kim Jong Un indeed! Hopefully not too much disruption for you, Mike. It’ll be interesting to see what dominoes Croatia sets in motion… Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

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