0000 January 1st 1947.
The Kremlin, Moscow.
"Comrades you have had eight months to destroy the Japanese Army in China, I trust that is nearly complete?" Stalin asked.
"Not quite but we are making excellent progress." replied Chief of Staff Meretskov.
"What do you mean by 'excellent'?"
"We have captured twenty two provinces from them Comrade Secretary."
"That does not seem to be that many to me. Have we lost any territory?"
"Four provinces in Siberia of little consequence."
"I suggest you take them back immediately. How many of their divisions have we destroyed?"
"Let me check." came the reply as Meretskov looked through some papers. "None Comrade Secretary."
"NONE!" Stalin shouted in anger. "You are using the same army that routed the Germans I hope and not a bunch of children?"
"Yes Comrade Secretary. They are using the terrain to their advantage and our troops very rarely encountered mountains during our fight with the Wehrmacht. We are having a few teething problems."
"How many soldiers lives have these 'teething problems' cost us?" asked Stalin. "And don't refer to some paper to find the answer because you already know it." he added.
"The total is somewhere close to 1,000,000. Our Navy is doing very well though and we have suffered very few losses to the much larger Imperial Japanese Navy that has decimated the Americans."
"And where is our obsolete Navy operating?"
"Mostly around the Baltic Sea Comrade Secretary." replied Kuznetsov.
"How many enemy ships have been sighted in the Baltic Sea so far?" Stalin asked sarcastically. "Never mind, I know the answer to that question. I trust our Airforce has been performing a little better than our other Armed Forces?"
"Not exactly no, the enemy is using more modern aircraft and we are suffering losses because of it. We have also lost some squadrons when they invaded our airbases." Novikov replied.
"You have an Army of over 6 million men and you didn't defend any airbases?"
"A small oversight Comrade Secretary. We shall try not to let it happen again. The Spring should bring about many victories as we have had to redeploy most of our Army from the west to the east and the distances involved are vast. Most of our forces should be in position to crush the Japanese by then." Meretskov explained.
"It would appear that I might need to purge our Officers again if that doesn't happen and I will start from the top and work my way down." Stalin said ominously.
"I am sure that won't be necessary Comrade Secretary, we just need more time to overcome the weaker enemy forces." Meretskov replied confidently.
"I certanly hope that is going to be the case. Have you considered replacing the troops we have lost from our manpower reserves?""
"Our Army is four times larger than the enemy and I do not think we will need more troops to achieve victory. We are supposed to be distracting the Imperial Japanese Army so that the Allies can conquer the Pacific and land in mainland Japan to end this War."
"How our the Allies progressing with that Comrade Molotov?"
Molotov knew this question would be asked and he really did not want to provide the answer to this question or the ones that would inevitably follow. "They are having a few problems of their own." he replied as evasively as he could.
"Why don't I just ask more direct questions rather than give you a chance to be 'diplomatic'." Stalin replied. "Have the British captured India back yet?"
"No Comrade Secretary and it looks like the Japanese are looking to advance in to Persia."
"So the British Army is not doing very well then?"
"Oh they are suffering very few losses but the same cannot be said of their Commonwealth Allies and puppet States."
"I trust the ANZACs are at least giving the Japanese a very bloody nose?"
"I would have to say that that is not the case either. Both Australia and New Zealand have been annexed by Japan and are no longer involved in the War."
"One last question for you then. Tell me the Americans and their massive fleet are at least closing in on mainland Japan?"
"The American fleet is no longer massive and the Japanese are fairly close to Alaska, so I would say that here too the Allies are a little behind schedule."
"Why do I get a sense of deja vu here. What you are saying is that we are back in 1941 facing an adversary alone and expected to bleed so that the Allies can come along and mop up the easy gains once we do the hard work?"
"That sums it up rather well Comrade Secretary." Molotov replied.