1730 Zulu (2130 Local Time)
Another meeting between two senior members of the Soviet government was starting just as the one in Dolgikh’s dacha was drawing to a close. This one was happening in the general secretary’s residence inside of the Kremlin compound. Grigori Romanov was seated in a comfortable leather chair near the fireplace inside of his study. No fire was lit of course. The man now being escorted in Romanov’s head of security was dressed in a gray suit. His facial features revealed hints of a man who was running on fumes both mentally and physically. This was no surprise to the general secretary. The past month had taken a toll on the higher echelon of the Soviet government, and this was evident in their physical features as well as they way in which they moved and spoke. Some hid the fatigue and slow down better than others. The man now in Romanov’s presence had not, though the general secretary was confident he’d performed his most recent task perfectly.
Romanov pointed him to an empty chair. Once the guard had departed and he was settled in, the man spoke. “Everything is ready, Comrade. I have confirmed it all personally over the last thirty minutes.”
“You are certain?” Romanov asked at once, revealing a hint of nervousness in his tone.
“Da. I give you my personal assurance, Grigory Vasilyevich. The first step will commence just under six hours from now. Nothing will prevent it from moving forward.”
Satisfied, Romanov smiled broadly. His longtime friend and ideological comrade spoke of placing Romanov’s decisive plan into action. It could not wait any longer, they each knew. Both men were also confident it would lead to victory. In putting the plan together, the general secretary had learned from the mistakes made five days earlier. The nuclear ultimatum had failed tragically, producing nothing except for two irradiated cities and tens of thousands of citizens dead on both sides. Well, the Soviet people had experienced suffering on this scale before, Romanov reasoned. His fellow countrymen could endure. Perhaps it was time for people in NATO countries to experience this as well.
The plan going into motion now was better suited to succeed and change the face of the war at this critical moment. The Soviet Union and her Warsaw Pact allies would be rebranded as the victims. NATO and the United States would appear to be the aggressors in deeds and intentions. The new formula would pave the way for an end to the war on Soviet terms.
“Your boss has no knowledge of this plan,” Romanov commented. “Or of your involvement. I suggest we let it remain this way for now.”
“Of course, Comrade.”
“I have kept him busy running errands this evening,” the general secretary chuckled and then grew serious. “Viktor Mikhailovich is a good and loyal man. His exclusion, as well as your inclusion should not be misinterpreted in any way. He is to remain in charge until the war ends. That is my decision. After that,” Romanov spread his hands. “The KGB chairmanship will be yours, Vladimir Alexandrovich.”