Politics of Armageddon: “Millions Will Die…” D+22 (31 July 1987) Part II

The arrival of Western TVD’s commander in Moscow attracted little attention. The Soviet Union was engaged in a war for national survival and the unexpected appearance of a senior field commander in the capital city raised few eyebrows. General Snetkov was more at ease than he’d been on earlier trips to Moscow for the simple fact he was certain he would be returning to his command post after this day’s events. As for the reasons behind being ordered back this time, he had suspicions about those, and it left him uneasy. Snetkov was met at the airport by a car and driver. He was taken directly to the Ministry of Defense and met by the Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces. Marshal Akhromeyev. Directed him to his personal office and revealed the reason for being ordered back to Moscow. Snetkov was not surprised in the least. Instead, he was horrified.

As the generals conferred, urgent political maneuvering was going on around the city. On one side, numerous Politburo members opposed to Romanov and the war were moving to build a solid opposition. Undecided and vacillating men were visited by proxies of Vladimir Dolgikh and urged to throw their support behind the apparent opposition leader before Romanov pushed the entire Soviet Union into the abyss. These efforts were diluted by Romanov allies who were dispatched, assumably by the general secretary himself allay concerns and reach a compromise. The hardliners wanted thirty-six hours to bring the war to an acceptable end or Romanov will be removed from office. Naturally, this offer was met with suspicion. More than one Politburo member questioned its sincerity. Yet by this point, there was no real choice. If the opposition moved now, the West would take advantage of the situation for its own gain. Dolgikh, after hearing of the offer was reluctant to turn it down. He knew Yeltsin needed more time to organize. Turning him loose prematurely guaranteed failure. With limited options and time running out, Dolgikh polled the undecided members shortly before the afternoon Politburo meeting. They overwhelmingly favored the thirty-six-hour option for Romanov, confident the hardliners would bring about his removal if the war continued on after that time. Dolgikh was caught between two chairs and knew it. Reluctantly, he agreed. At 1445 that afternoon, he met privately with Viktor Chebrikov and informed the KGB Chairman of his position.

The Politburo met again at 1600 with all members in attendance. Following up the subject of the morning meeting, Marshal Akhromeyev and Snetkov were there. At the request of Romanov, Snetkov delivered a briefing that explained in broad terms the battlefield nuclear and chemical weapons options available if NATO forces crossed the Inner-German Border. The revelations affectively sobered most of the men in the conference room. When pressed by members on the present state of Soviet forces in the Federal Republic, Snetkov assured the Politburo that Soviet forces would retreat no further. “Comrades,” Romanov spoke genially. “Let us not hound Marshal Snetkov for details on his battle plan. He is a capable officer, as we’ve seen. Had his civilian superior listened to him earlier, we would not be in this situation. That is the past,” he casually waved his hand dismissively. “Marshal,” he began, emphasizing the rank and surreptitiously confirming the man’s promotion, “Snetkov will not fail us.”

The meeting broke up a short while later with supporters and opponents of Grigory Romanov feeling comfortably confident their side had thirty-six hours. Yet as is the case with many political dramas, the calculations and assumptions of the actors involved were not likely to pass their baptism of fire. Which was coming far sooner than any of the party members anticipated.

8 Replies to “Politics of Armageddon: “Millions Will Die…” D+22 (31 July 1987) Part II”

  1. *insert dramatic music*

    Why do I think the Soviet lines are going to collapse at that intersection…. and the IGB is reached…. then breached (if accidentally).

    The Marines get beach prep of their chosen landing zone, with Ship-to-Shore gunfire (iirc, I think you have one of the BB’s with that Amphib group) which will scare them yet even MORE… as it shows their naval impotence.

    Remains to be seen what happens… but I see some scared responses in the Kremlin and a earlier-than-planned coup that removes Romanov but creates a bigger vacuum than planned for. And half-again the chaos such things bring.

    My two pence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good pence. Both of them. But I’m not giving any hints about what’s to come. 🙂 Well, maybe one or two, but they’ll come when you least expect them


    1. The Hind certainly gives off enough heat for them to guide in with no trouble. We saw that in Afghanistan, and more recently in Ukraine


  2. This really is very good political drama as well as a sweeping military thriller. I wonder if there is a good history of the competition between Romanov and Gorbachev. Maybe Taubman’s biography of Gorbachev? My father was reading that book when he passed away peacefully a few years ago. It’s been on my reading list since then; haven’t started it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! There’s some info available on the Romanov-Gorbachev rivalry and the aftermath. Taubman’s bio probably has some. Very sorry to hear that your father didn’t have the chance to finish it. Maybe soon you can start it up.


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