20th Guards Army HQ, Enschede
"You wanted to talk to me, Nikita?", General Leonid Zhukov got straight to the point after the irate face of his superior flashed up on the com-screen of his recently relocated headquarters. With the spearhead of their invasion obliterated in a barrage of atomic fire in May 2048 and their overstreched supply lines under constant harassment by European guerillas and American air strikes, the Russian forces now found themselves on the retreat: In the west, France was lost and the Be-Ne-Lux front was collapsing, the southern front had turned into a pocket surrounded on three sides by the Italians, the Austrians and the US expeditionary forces under General Bradley, while the Scandinavians had seized control over the Danish island of Zealand, forming a bulwark between central and northern Europe. Needless to say, the man on the other end of Zhukov's call did not appreciate to these developments.
"It's General Aleksandr for you, if I may insist!", he snarled back. "And who do you think you are to defy orders from Supreme Command?"
Zhukov knew immediately what Aleksandr was getting at. Earlier that day, he had received a certain priority order from his superior which he did not put into action for reasons that he would now have to explain. Calmly, the old General demonstratively took himself some time before he mustered his determined response: "Supreme Command? Allow me to get this straight: It was you who ordered me to deploy my nuclear weapons against cities! Not enemy command facilities or force concentrations, not even factories, airfields, power plants or other legitimate war assets..." He paused, letting his grim, wrinkled face add gravity to his statement: "No! You wanted me to eradicate population centres; over three dozen targets on the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles and in North Africa, where they brought all the refugees, with casualty simulations in excess of 200 million. With due respect, 'General' Aleksandr...You can bet your stars that I'm going to defy an order like that unless you can look me in the eyes and explain to me what -the fuck- you were hoping to accomplish with this!"
Aleksandr could not believe what he just heard and replied in a tone of feigned dismay: "We must break their will to resist, Zhukov! Shatter their morale like they have ruined that of our Army! I honestly expected a man of your calibre to have a bit more bite. Have you already forgotten what they did to our poor comrades in France? Over three hundred thousand of them got flash-vapourised, blasted to pieces or died puking their own guts out. Have you ever seen..."
Zhukov took a quick step forward, prompting Aleksandr to flinch back in front of his screen: "Are you trying to teach me about the horrors of war, boy? I fought for our Motherland in the streets of Grozny and got the brains of my best friend splattered over my face before you even went to school. I was awarded my first Gold Star while you were still spending your days cramming science books and not getting laid. You have no right to lecture me about anything, is that understood?"
"Tough talk from a drunken old fool!", Aleksandr snorted back as he realised that Zhukov would not fall for his manipulative attempts for even a second. By this point in the war, the higher ranks of the regular Russian military got increasingly fed up with Aleksandr's leadership, frequently ignoring his orders or denying support to his Shock Divisions under paper-thin pretences. He had already ordered several colonels and lower-ranking generals executed 'for cowardice' at the hands of his own loyal death squads, but he also understood that such attempts on the more prominent officers like Zhukov and Orlov would raise the attention of the President. For now, Aleksandr could only retaliate against Zhukov with a tirade of verbal abuse: "For all your alleged heroics, you're still one pitiful excuse for a man who outlived his prime long ago. First your failure against the Dutch and now your insubordination. Perhaps...it is for the better than your son did not live to witness your disgrace! President Suvorov had good reasons to put me in charge of this invasion and I will do everything that's necessary to ensure my success, with or without you!"
"Your success, huh?" Zhukov repeated laconically. The proud senior veteran concealed his personal injury at these intolerable polemics with a sarcastic chuckle, then continued: "Lesson number one about thermonuclear war, boy: The only winning move is not to play. The Europeans have their backs against the wall and retaliated by detonating atomic bombs on their home soil. We would have done the exact same thing if we had them standing at the gates of Moscow. If we take this chain of escalation any further by striking against their cities, they'll do the same to ours; our fleets are still on the hunt for their ballistic missile submarines and they still have several of their killer satellites in orbit as well. I'm doing my job as a soldier and officer of the Russian people, but I am not going to serve as an instrument of your insanity! The President should have known that this entire plan was doomed to ruin us all right from the start. He may have put you in charge of the operation for whatever random reason but he has personally authorised me and me alone to deploy our nuclear weapons. Perhaps you should ask yourself why he made that choice. As it stands, it is up to my judgement if, when and where I use them. You got that?"
"Zhukov...Are you...contemplating betrayal!?" Aleksandr inquired with an air of surprise.
"Are you contemplating genocide, Nikita?" Zhukov asked back sharply.
"I will report this treachery to President Suvorov!", Aleksandr replied, his face reddening with anger.
"Good for you, boy!", Zhukov laughed. "Go ahead and tell him that you wanted me to murder a few million innocent people. Tell him that you wanted him to go down in history as the worst butcher of the 21st century - I'm sure he will be thrilled!"
It was at this point that Aleksandr had enough: "I will remember this, old man. One day...You will be extremely sorry for this insolence. Keep that in mind for the rest of your worthless, pathetic life!"
Unimpressed, Zhukov casually signalled his communications technician to terminate the call, but Aleksandr beat him to the punch himself. After a brief moment of confused silence, the staff officers in the General's command room slowly broke into applause, proud and relieved that old Father Leonid had held what may have been the single most critical line of the entire war...
Ever since the end of the Cold War, the nation of Russia was home to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on Earth and even though attrition, empty treasuries and international agreements chipped away at this enormous arsenal for many years, the nuclear policies of the West still revolved largely around diminishing the power of the Russian bear. As such, political analysts and government officials around the world were shocked by a landmark announcement which Nikolai Suvorov made in his second New Year's address in 2030: Under his leadership, Russia would opt out of any future de-armament treaties and instead modernise its arsenal of nuclear weapons, intercontinental delivery systems as well as the enigmatic Perimetr control system. Officially, the President cited two reasons to justify this decision: For one, Russia would maintain its massive arsenal of missiles in order to protect its people from extraterrestrial threats; the close approach of the asteroid Apophis in the previous year was observed around the world and Russia itself remembered the historical near-misses that occured at Tunguska and Chelyabinsk many decades ago. But more controversially, Suvorov noted that the decline of the Russian arsenal and the exponential growth of China's Second Artillery Corps during the Global War On Terror had tipped the nuclear balance in favour of Beijing, which he now sought to correct in order to maintain peace between the two former partners turned rivals. The United States expressed harsh criticism at the President's plan, but could not go any further, as they justified the existence of their own atomic arsenal and the Particle Cannon network under the same rationale.
Over the years, Russia developed a number of new ballistic missile systems, including the 'Don' which was designed for tactical use on the battlefield. Thanks to its on-board jamming systems, the new missile cannot be intercepted by any means and carries up to five low-yield atomic bombs, essentially designed as a way to deliver an accurate nuclear artillery barrage to shatter enemy formations and defensive lines. Ever since President Suvorov had issued the clearance to deploy these weapons to General Leonid Zhukov, several Don missiles were installed at Russian Army bases in the occupied territories of Europe. Zhukov reasoned that a ballistic missile launch that was detected closer to the frontline would not be as easily misinterpreted as a strategic launch from the larger silo compounds in the Russian homeland. He knew that such an error might easily bring about the end of the world, which is why he reserved his missiles for only a select few high-priority military targets in support of his ground assaults and defied orders from General Aleksandr who urged him to launch them against European population centres in a last fanatical effort to shatter their opponents' morale. Despite protests from Aleksandr, President Suvorov never reprimanded Father Leonid for his disobedience, which the old, respected General regarded as an unspoken statement of approval.
In addition to the Missile Silo, we would also like to show you the updated model of the iconic Topol-M1 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher.