Ian Slater: Arctic Front

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Ian Slater Arctic Front
  • Название:
    Arctic Front
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Ballantine Books
  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1992
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    0-449-14756-8
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Arctic Front: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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The American tanks smashed through the snow blockades in the terrible minus-seventy-degree Arctic battle. But they were outnumbered by troops of the Siberian Republic by five to one. In this, the worst winter in twenty years, blizzards wreaked havoc with U.S. air cover, and the smart money was on the Siberians. Their forebears had destroyed the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad. Now they would do the same to the Americans — unless the colorful and highly unorthodox U.S. General Feeman could devise a spectacular breakout…

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Ian Slater

ARCTIC FRONT

PROLOGUE

“At least four republics have said they will leave the command structure of the Soviet Army and form their own armies.”

The Economist, October 20, 1990

“Nowadays it is not only misleading but also wrong to view Russia and the Soviet Union as one political entity… Districts like the Irkutsk regions of Siberia have adopted declarations of ‘equality and independence.’”

Time magazine, November 12, 1990

“In July 1990, Col. Gen. Nikolai Chervov announced that the Soviet Army had 41,580 tanks in Europe. With the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty signed in November 1990, there were hopes that a significant fraction of these tanks would be dismantled. Data released by the Soviets on 19 November 1990 indicate that there are now only 20,694 Soviet tanks in Europe. Where did all the other tanks go?

After stonewalling the newly aggressive Soviet press for two months regarding the mystery, the Ministry of Defense Information Administration finally offered to clarify the situation for the paper Sovetskaya Rossiya. Officials claimed that in excess of 20,000 tanks were moved beyond the Urals prior to signing the treaty document. About 8,000 tanks from Europe were handed over to Soviet units in Asia, either to bring them up to strength or to replace old tanks. A further 8,392 tanks were placed into storage bases in Western Siberia or Central Asia.”

Armed Forces Journal International, March 1991

CHAPTER ONE

General Chernko was a big man, his body hiding hers as he showed her the room. She had been chosen by Chernko’s subaltern purely at random. Despite the severe rationing she had the kind of full figure, accentuated by the dark red dress she was wearing, that the major knew General Chernko liked: kapitalnye titki— “prominent breasts,” as the general would say. “Something to hang onto.”

“Don’t undress,” Chernko ordered her, and for a second the terror in the woman’s eyes harbored a faint hope — dashed by his next words. “We’ll have to hurry,” he told her, as if she had any choice in the matter. “Soon the Americans’ll be here.” As he pulled the drapes closed she glimpsed the Kremlin directly across the square, still burning.

Even the goshawks, traditional guardians of the Kremlin’s snow-capped towers, were fleeing the shell-pocked Citadel, leaving the Supreme Soviet to the crows — the Russian surrender to the legendary American general Douglas Freeman having been signed at Minsk by Marshal Kirov. Though the Allied troops had not yet reached Moscow proper, thousands of red fires, smoking sullenly amid the black-stained snow, marked the end for the city.

Chernko, chief of the Committee for Public Safety, the KGB, and now interim president of the USSR following President Suzlov’s death, could smell the sickly sweet odor of cooked flesh and the acrid fumes of burning diesel rising from the gutted T-90s in the city’s outer rings, the smoke bleeding darkly into the still, cold, blue air. Normally the sight of dead bodies didn’t bother him — he’d had thousands of people executed in the course of the war for un-Soviet activity and had carried out many of the executions himself — but now the sight of stiff, bloated bodies in the frigid dawn brought his own mortality closer. Had it been possible, he would have ordered the corpses buried in a mass grave, but the frozen ground was too hard for burial except in the craters left by the Allied bombing and the mass concentrated fire of the American 105-millimeter howitzers that had reduced much of the city to rubble.

It was 7:00 a.m., and Chernko knew it could not be long before Freeman’s advance armored columns, with battle honors earned from Korea to Vietnam to the Iraqi desert, reached the inner city to occupy the Kremlin, which now lay smoldering across from his office in Dzerzhinsky Square. With President Suzlov dead, Chernko thought it possible the Allies might well use him as they’d used the Nazis in World War II to run the huge, complex government apparatus until they learned the ropes themselves. Or they might shoot him on the spot. He glanced impatiently at his watch.

It was 7:03. “Major, where’s the car?” He was anxious to reach the new headquarters bunker in the outer ring. Communications here at the Dzerzhinsky Square offices were unreliable because of the artillery-severed underground cables. Any messages he wanted to send would have to be delivered by dispatch riders.

“Car’s on its way, Comrade Director,” replied the major, not yet used to calling Chernko “Mr. President.” The Supreme Soviet Military Command — STAVKA — had backed Chernko when he had personally shot President Suzlov when the latter had issued the idiotic command to fight to the last Russian. But Chernko knew that while his action might have been supported by his Russian colleagues, it might not be so well received in the other republics. Everything was in flux.

“With all the debris,” the major explained, “your car will probably have to make a detour around…”

The major’s words were drowned out by a tremendous crash— the tower above the Kremlin’s Spassky Gate telescoping into itself, crumbling amid flames shooting so high they threw the Citadel’s rust-red walls into a stark, dancing relief. For Chernko the collapse of the tower was, ironically, like a shot of adrenaline, injecting him with an overwhelming urge to live. “Come here!” he ordered the woman.

She didn’t utter a sound, didn’t look away, for to anger him would mean death for her family as well as for herself. She had never seen Chernko before except in photographs. Already she was trembling, trying to be brave. At least, she thought, Beria, Stalin’s KGB henchman, had gone out himself to prowl the streets for women. But Chernko no doubt considered himself above that. He sent underlings — his major.

She could smell the expensive cologne on Chernko, no doubt purchased at one of the Party’s elite stores. In the end, Gorbachev and Yeltsin had changed nothing — the powerful were always the powerful. What could you do but submit?

He opened his greatcoat. “Take that scarf off,” he commanded her. “You look like a peasant.” He sat down, told her to kneel in front of him, and tore open her gray prison blouse, reaching forward, roughly pushing down her calico bra beneath her breasts. Now she was aware of another smell — his, mixed up with the cologne. “If you bite,” he said matter-of-factly, sitting back in his doeskin recliner, “I’ll kill you. Understand?” Before she could answer, he unzipped his trousers. “Slowly at first,” he instructed her. “Go on!”

She did it as she and so many others had done so many other things for the chairman of the Committee of Public Safety and his thugs who called themselves the KGB. Soon Chernko was grunting like a pig, leaning forward on the edge of his chair, pulling and pushing her head until suddenly he seized her breasts so violently she gasped with pain. He shuddered, pushed her away, and then, backing up in the chair, its rollers going off the heavy, protective plastic that onto the carpet, he shot her. Far enough away that no stains would get on his greatcoat, careful to use a U.S. nine-millimeter Parabellum load for his Makarov pistol in the unlikely event anyone would find her. Despite the physical release the woman had given him, Chernko was still anxious. He had learned from his agents in Novosibirsk that his name was on an official Sibirskie predateli—”Siberian traitors”—list for his part in Moscow’s decision to surrender. He decided it was time to take out some insurance, but he was under no illusion. His down payment to the Siberians would have to be something spectacular — the biggest secret of all — an offer that, as American gangsters would say, the Siberians couldn’t refuse. A plan that was certain to mollify Novosibirsk and protect him from the Siberian vengeance against those who had authorized the Russian surrender. A plan that would also wreak havoc with America.

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