D+20 Politics of Armageddon: Chebrikov’s Request

The first members of the Politburo to return to Moscow were the members belonging to the Defense Council. This group of men arrived at the Kremlin shortly after 2:00 AM local time and went directly into conference with the General Secretary. Over the next six hours, the rest of the Politburo members, full and candidate, would return to the Soviet capital. A full Politburo meeting was scheduled for 3 PM that afternoon.

At the Kremlin, after being briefed on the latest developments in Germany, the Defense Council turned its focus to matters closer to home. Rescue and recovery efforts were continuing in Gorki. The level of devastation was incomprehensible, and the military and Civil Defense were butting heads on the matter of evacuations and radiation amounts in areas surrounding the section of the city that was ground zero. The number of casualties was nowhere close to being finalized. At present, the working estimate was upwards of a quarter million dead. It was bound to climb in the coming days and weeks with some estimates predicting a final number of 500,000 deaths including radiation cases. State media was being quite restrictive with the information it released on Gorki. The destruction of Soviet military facilities on Novaya Zemlya was relegated to a brief mention in most television and radio broadcasts.

The final order of business was broached by Viktor Chebrikov. The KGB Chairman asked Romanov’s permission to increase the level of surveillance on Politburo members over the coming hours and days. He used caution as his primary justification for the request. The last forty-eight hours had been laden with geopolitical upheaval and a torrent of emotions. Politburo members naturally shared their thoughts with one another, especially in the aftermath of Gorki’s destruction. Chebrikov feared that a handful of full and candidate members less dedicated to the successful conclusion of this war might hatch a plot. The cynical mindset of the KGB Chairman had already created dozens of scenarios for a coup attempt, as well as a long list of potential ringleaders. While he could not arrest Politburo members without cause, Chebrikov’s men could quietly round up dozens of hooligans and likely troublemakers in the coming hours. Of these politicians and activists who were potential threats to the central government, the KGB only mentioned one by name: Boris Yeltsin.

Author’s Note: Short first post to open up D+20, I know. But it’s set up like this for a reason. We’ll be coming back to Moscow and the political realm a few times through the day and this potential subplot will begin to make sense. There’s a method to my madness. – Mike

18 Replies to “D+20 Politics of Armageddon: Chebrikov’s Request”

    1. I’m glad too, Ed. And like I noted in the primer, both leaders think they hold the initiative and are playing to win. Only one can be right about that.


  1. Odd thought while I was reading this: The strike on Gorki takes place a little after a year from the Chernobyl disaster. Do you think the Civil Defense folks will have picked up any lessons learned?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very good question. I’d say Civil Defense might’ve picked up a few lessons but for the destruction of a city, nobody is prepared to face that

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Escalation would be pretty reckless. SAC is probably fully generated, with at least limited dispersal. SSBNs are at sea, and tenders are either at sea or have steam up. The SSBNs off the east and west coast have probably all been accounted for. The hardliners could hurt the US in a first strike, but US response would see the end of the USSR as a viable nation.

    A coup and suing for peace may be the best way to preserve the Soviet Union and a form of communist rule for the party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably would be the best thing for the Union…a coup and suing for peace. Some things have to fall into place for that to happen though. We’re still on a slippery slope here.


    2. Amir, you make a good point. It is undergirded by an assumption of rationality on the part of decision makers. I always assumed that leaders in the US and USSR were pretty well vetted by the time they reached the top. The unstable people were weeded out along the way. However, I cannot get the images of Buck Turgidson and Jack Ripper from from Dr. Strangelove out of my head when contemplating the war. Watching too many moving I suppose…..

      Liked by 1 person

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