1630 Zulu (2030 Local Time)
The second meeting of significance for opponents of the general secretary was also held in Vladimir Dolgikh’s dacha. This one was smaller than the first one with only Dolgikh and a silent ally present. This second man was a Politburo member too, as well as being one of the few officials in Moscow to hold the complete confidence and trust of the general secretary. His presence here was not a treasonous act, in either his own eyes or Dolgikh’s. Or in Romanov’s view either, for that matter. In fact, the general secretary was fully aware of his comrade’s visit here this afternoon. He’d ordered it himself. The purpose was to inform Dolgikh of some events and news, unfiltered, to keep the political situation stable and and prevent a misunderstanding from cropping up at the worst possible time. What Romanov was unaware of was that his comrade intended to provide more information than expected. And with hope gather just as much in exchange.
“We have initiated a limited use of chemical agents in Europe,” he confirmed. “NATO has not responded yet but will eventually.”
“The maniac,” Dolgikh grimaced. “Why? What is the purpose behind this madness?”
“To send a message to NATO and the Americans especially that a violation of the border will bring about swift and terrible consequences. A sensible move and it will not be seen by NATO as escalation since nuclear weapons have already been used.”
Dolgikh considered this. To his surprise he found himself agreeing with the logic. “NATO will use chemical weapons in response,” he warned.
The other man nodded his head. “Romanov will accept a similar response in exchange but no more.”
“Very well. Now, please tell me more about the general secretary’s decisive plan to win the war.”
After a brief pause of hesitation and another spent formulating a reply Dolgikh’s silent ally spoke carefully. “If executed properly it has the potential to be decisive. Perhaps not enough to win the war, but it will give us leverage to negotiate a favorable conclusion to hostilities.”
“Does it include the use of more nuclear weapons?”
“Absolutely not. You have my assurance. The military and other elements of the government will not support a first-use of nuclear weapons.”
“But we already used them first,” Dolgikh pointed out.
“A very limited exchange,” his comrade pointed out. “And a mistake.”
“Thousands of our citizens vaporized and Gorkii turned to ash,” Dolgikh spat. “Calling it a mistake is an understatement. Let’s move on.”
“Another matter of supreme importance is our missile-submarine bastion. The Americans have not moved against it yet. Romanov wanted to launch an all-out attack on the carrier fleet today. We managed to talk him down and allow Northern Fleet more time to prepare. The sinking of a British aircraft carrier earlier today has satisfied the general secretary for the time being.”
“Then we will strike the American fleet?”
“Da, but not until we are fully prepared. Our navy and long-range aviation bombers have performed poorly in this conflict. It is not commonly known, but that is the truth, sadly.”
Dolgikh grunted in frustration. Billions of rubles spent on weapons and training over the years. All for nothing. This was not the time to expand on that topic, though.
“How are your own preparations coming, Vladimir Ivanovich? Like it or not, I may look to you to bring an end to this madness.”
“Slower than hoped,” Dolgikh admitted bitterly before recovering and composing himself. “But if the moment comes, I promise you we will be ready, Viktor Mikhailovich.”
Ally asks about Dolgikh’s own preparations. Dolgikh admits they’re moving slower than hoped but progress is being made.
Author’s Note: Happy Monday, folks. I kept this entry shorter than originally planned. I want to change the format of D+23 for the coming hours since there will be little of substance going on in this time frame. Put simply, I want to avoid bogging things down. I’ll post an entry tomorrow explaining what will be coming up between Wednesday and the weekend. –Mike