At 10 AM the Politburo convened again in the same Kremlin conference room it had been meeting in for the duration of the Third World War. This meeting was attended only by full members, to the surprise and alarm of some. Candidate members were not present, and their exclusion was blamed on scheduling conflicts and logistics. Romanov assured his comrades that the entire Politburo would be present for the next meeting later in the day. His assurance was accepted with a grain of salt by most full members.
On the previous afternoon, upon dismissing the body from the day’s meeting, General Secretary Romanov promised an in-depth briefing on the military situation for this morning. Romanov held true to his word and when the full members arrived, briefing booklets were distributed around the table. Marshal Akhromeyev, chief of the General Staff and still the senior military officer in the Soviet Union briefed the men present on the situation in every theater of operations from the Far East to the Central Front. His reports contained more truth than most of the men at the table expected to hear. More predictably, though, Akhromeyev was sparse with details and laid the blame for Soviet defeats and reversals of fortune on undisclosed circumstances.
For the Central Front and Northwestern TVD, the admiral’s delivery changed. In Germany, NATO forces, led by American armor, was rapidly approaching the IGB. The danger of the current NATO attack spilling over onto Warsaw Pact soil was real and could not be ignored. “The enemy will almost certainly never reach this point,” he pointed out. “Nevertheless, the possibility, though remote, must be addressed.” In northern Norway, the danger was twofold. A large flotilla of American naval power was now in the Norwegian Sea. Some of the vessels were amphibious assault ships carrying large numbers of naval infantry. The concern here was obviously a landing attempt on the Kola Peninsula. At the same time, the enemy armada could begin a concerted attack on the ballistic missile submarine bastions in the northern Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. Akhromeyev concluded by assuring his political masters that Soviet Naval Aviation and Long Range Aviation were preparing for a major attack on the American ships that he was confident would neutralize their ability to conduct offensive operations against either the bastions or Soviet territory.
Romanov spoke as soon as the admiral was seated again. “Comrades, these are the present dangers we face. Marshal Akhromeyev was correct. Our forces will prevent NATO from crossing the frontier in Europe and stop any intended operation to land troops on our northern shores. As far as the missile submarines are concerned, I made our position on the matter clear to the American president. An attack against those boats will be met with an immediate nuclear retaliation. It is my belief our enemy will heed this warning.
“Practically speaking, it is only prudent that we, the Soviet government, makes plans should the worst-case scenario become a reality. If NATO elects to ignore our warnings and attempts to bring the war to Soviet soil or the sovereign land of our Eastern European allies, we must be prepared to employ chemical, and tactical nuclear weapons to stop them and turn the tide of this war once and for all.
The General Secretary lowered his voice and stared carefully at the face of every man at the conference table. “In other words, my friends, the Soviet Union must be ready to fight and win a limited nuclear battle. Millions will die, and portions of our home territory might be contaminated for hundreds of years, but the Soviet Union will emerge from this war as the victor.”
Author’s Note: Well, Memorial Day weekend has started. I’m dividing up this final D+22 entry into two, or perhaps three parts. Everything will be up by Monday afternoon at the latest. I hope everyone enjoys the long weekend and doubly hope the weather holds up for any plans you have.