Author’s Note: Apologies for the lateness of this post and the quality. As most of you know, Ida’s remnants blew through NJ Wednesday night, leaving a trail of destruction behind. I’m safe and sound and so are my friends and family. But the last couple of days have been filled with clean up, helping out some friends and such. So what was supposed to be the last entry of this section has to be divided into a pair. The final one will be posted Sunday night or Monday and then we can finally bring an end to D+17.
The Politburo convened at 2 PM that afternoon in the Council of Ministers building. Every member was in attendance apart from the KGB Chairman. This was the first time since the early days of the war that candidates and full members were gathered in one location. Security was understandably heavy as a result.
Dimitri Yazov opened by briefing the Politburo. Marshal Akhromeyev was absent, a detail that went unnoticed by many of the men inside of the chamber. The Defense Minister painted an overly positive picture of the war, emphasizing Soviet victories, most exaggerated. Theaters where Soviet military fortunes had been declining were glossed over. The strategic situation was not mentioned at all. However, Yazov does reiterate the fact that no NATO aircraft have attacked targets in Soviet territory for over forty-eight hours now. He leaves the reason for this open to speculation, yet makes it clear he regards this as a victory of sorts.
In contrast to previous meetings, Yazov’s words on this afternoon encouraged pointed inquiries by both full Politburo members and candidates alike. The questions hint at a new restlessness growing in some of the men. The Defense Minister’s briefing has obviously left out a large amount of detail. Efforts to cajole more information from Yazov only result in him redoubling efforts to stonewall.
The General Secretary noticed the first hard indications of resistance percolating amongst Politburo members. What was most unnerving to him was the fact moderates and hardliners alike were questioning Yazov’s account of the war. Men who had followed his leadership absolutely since April were now openly probing for holes in the briefing. Romanov realized this was not a good sign. The growing dissent had to be contained and then quashed before it left the womb.
He moved immediately to appease, announcing a Politburo meeting for 8 AM the following morning. There, he promised, a more in-depth report on the conduct of the war would be delivered, with an emphasis on the battle raging in Germany. Following this, the next phase of the war was to be discussed. Romanov then closed the meeting and exited the chamber.
On his way to the elevator, he was surprised to find the KGB Chairman there waiting for him. The two men stepped into the elevator silently and as it began its descent, Chebrikov broke the silence. “It is far worse than I expected,” he said, the alarm in his words clear. “The Defense Minister is holding back critical information and the General Staff is reluctantly going along with it.”
“Why would they do this?” Romanov wondered aloud.
“Grigory Vasilyevich,” Chebrikov breathed. “The war is not going well. Our colleague the Defense Minister is apparently holding back the bulk of bad news until he can provide some positive news to offset it. We need to talk in private immediately.”
The General Secretary nodded as the elevator reached the bottom level and the doors slid open. “Come with me.”