draft working title: Transfomed

Currently this is only a draft of the story I have buzzing around inside my head. I've written the early chapters simply to help get my thoughts in order and story started. I don't write that frequently, so I can't guarantee if and when new chapters will appear.

However, I really would appreciate constructive criticism because I'm trying to learn how to write in a way people want to read, so thanks in advance for your comments!!

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3. The Russian Invasion

 

The political landscape changed irrevocably when the astute protégé of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, became Premier of Russia in 1958. The son of a miner from Kalinovka, Nikita was a man of the people, not the established political elite. He read the mood of his countrymen, knew their frustrations, a yearning for improved living standards for the masses, not just the privileged few. Nikita, was a forceful orator and showman, as he was later to prove at the United Nations. Khrushchev stunned the council members into an uncomfortable silence when, without warning, he suddenly leapt to his feet and started angrily banging his shoe on the table during a heated debate. It was only years later that an eagle eyed PHD student, studying the poor quality film of the event noticed that Khrushchev still had both shoes on during the incident. What had shocked the council members as a spontaneous outburst of emotion, the moment the Premier’s blood boiled, and had made front page news around the world, had in fact been a piece of premeditated showmanship.

Khrushchev speeches where full of nationalist rhetoric, he repeatedly questioned the wisdom of his predecessor “for making our great country dependent upon the good grace of Lithuania”. He frequently spoke of, “removing the foreign hand from the beating heart of Russia” and the people listened. On the 15th August 1963, one year after the Cuban missile crisis, that had brought the world to the brink of war; he announced that the Energy Supply Agreement was unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. He also took over the Chernobyl power station and placed it in the hands of the state controlled Gasprom Corporation. Khrushchev and the Politburo had made a significant miscalculation. Both were convinced that the economic survival of Lithuania necessitated the continued supply of gas and electricity to Russia. Therefore, they expected LEC’s reaction to the nationalisation and the tearing up of the Energy Supply Agreement would be nothing more serious than face saving sabre rattling. This view was spectacularly wrong; it failed to take into account 3 factors that dramatically shifted the old supply demand dependency relationship. Firstly, LEC had, via it’s interconnect power grid relationships, an expanded market for its energy, including the EU. It was relatively easy therefore to, at least partially, offset any fall in Russian demand and to do so, without the need to offer a 12.5% discount. Secondly, the per unit cost of production was increasing as old gas and oil fired power stations were coming to the end of their economic life, necessitating large capital expenditures to build new efficient nuclear power stations. Thirdly, the Lithuanian government had over the years reinvested the profits from energy into diversifying the economy. The country now had thriving commercial and financial sectors; foreign companies were attracted by the favourable taxation system, which allowed R&D costs to be written off plus the low corporate and personal income tax rates attracted international and domestic entrepreneurs. These advantages were supplemented by the availability of a highly educated female workforce in plentiful supply.

The next day, LEC filed a law suit for damages with the International Court of Justice in the Haag. The Lithuanian Ambassador visited the Kremlin, before his recall to Vilinus, to notify Khrushchev that unless a new Energy Supply Agreement was signed within 7 days, LEC would be left with no option but to stop all energy supplies. It was also made clear during that final heated meeting, that Russia would be expected to pay the market price, no discount would be offered. LEC’s reaction reportedly sent Khrushchev into a wild frenzy, perhaps because he had not foreseen it, perhaps because it both reduced his ability to manoeuvre and severely undermined his political credibility.

Urgent shuttle diplomacy by the Secretary General of the United Nationals failed to defuse the situation. Khrushchev’s unpredictability, as had been seen the year earlier, determined the course of events. On the morning of 21st August Russia attacked Lithuania. By the evening, of that first bloody day of war, Russian troops had taken the Baltic seaport of Klaipeda, Lithuania’s gateway to the world, large swathes of the eastern provinces had been occupied in a ferocious blitzkrieg and Russian paratroops had secured key installations throughout the country including Vilinus airport. Throughout the night the civilian population were kept awake by the sound of an endless stream of military transport planes landing and taking off, bringing heavy armoury, T1 tanks, and thousand of ground troops.

Taken by surprise and heavily out gunned, the Lithuanian army was forced to use hit and run tactics to disrupt the Russian military build up. Several transport planes were destroyed on the ground by missiles fired from mobile launchers, their burning wreckage alleviating the darkness. Electricity pylons, that carried power to Russia, were blown up to ensure disruption of export supplies, even if the power stations were to fall into Russian hands. On the second day of fighting, Vilinus was effectively occupied and under Russian control. Russian troops went door to door, rooting out any residual resistance and dealing with it mercilessly. Reports circulated of unspeakable atrocities carried out by drunken soldiers, which prompted hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee Vilinus by any means available to them. Elsewhere, the fighting was not so conclusive. The Lithuanian army, composed of well equipped, trained and committed women soldiers who were prepared to, and did in large numbers, die for their country. Their ferocious defence of their homeland stopped or slowed the invading army on many fronts and provided the inspiration for the general population to believe all was not lost.

Khrushchev had tested the American resolve in Cuba the previous year, by installing medium range missiles capable of targeting American cities; his brinkmanship had taken the world to the verge of nuclear war. Buoyed by that experience, Nikita Khrushchev and the Politburo’s confidence was high, they were convinced the Americans had no appetite to send troops to defend a land so far from home. On the 26th August at 9:30 in the morning, President Kennedy addressed an expectant nation and Khrushchev gamble was lost and his fate was sealed. Kennedy committed America to not only to free Lithuania but also to effect regime change, to remove Khrushchev and his Politburo clique from office and ensure they stood trial for their crimes. Although the fighting continued on Lithuanian soil for 10 bloody days, the end when it came was swift. Overwhelming manpower, air superiority and advanced weaponry of the Americans drove the increasingly demoralised Russian army back. Then on the 9th September, the biggest ever parachute assault in history was launched on Moscow by the combined airborne divisions of the Lithuanian air force and America’s elite Green Beret parachute regiments. Eye witnesses recall the sky being filled with wave after wave of parachutists for hours. The Kremlin was eventually taken just before mid-night. Khrushchev, was arrested at his desk; he was immediately flown to prison in Vilinus before the news of his capture spread amongst Muscovites. Over the next few days most of the Politburo members were arrested, a few committed suicide rather than face trial. Commander of the Lithuanian forces, Air Marshall Adelija Novickis, solemnly raised the Lithuanian flag above the Kremlin at daybreak on the 10th September.

Terminally ill with prostate cancer, Khrushchev was released on compassionate grounds in May 1971. He returned to a Moscow that had changed beyond recognition under the joint administration of the Americans and Lithuanians. He completed his memoirs; Khrushchev Remembers just before is death on 11th September 1971.

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