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Henry v. Keiper

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Nice write up of the game event - I’m a big fan of taking the bits the game provides and working them into a dramatic narrative. A big thing to capture Stalin - opening up a new future, no doubt.

Admittedly this is like the chapter I wrote a long time ago in the Arryn CK2 AAR I did involving the Lord Paramount's wife, where I took one single game event and dragged it out an entire chapter. However, I figured this was a pretty important moment in the game - since it involves the capture and execution of the man who really did rule Russia during this time period.

Plus, my readers seem to like the espionage chapters.
 
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And you seem to like to write them! ;)

Meh, it depends. I think I enjoy it when they have something related to the plot, or move the plot along. Or in my head they seem cool. If it's nothing but action, however, I get rather bored with it. I think that was one reason it took me a while to get around to focusing on writing this update.
 

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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 18
Wrangel


15 December, 1937

As he gazed at the maps and communiques before him, Wrangel pondered for a moment the state of things. When he had pursued rumors that Anastasia was still alive, Wrangel had hoped it would offer some hope for Russia. Did the Russian people get hope? Oh yes, and so much more. No, not just hope – they had gotten nothing less than a miracle. Within the past year, the Communist uprising had come to a close, with Trotsky coming forward in peace talks and Stalin being executed, assuring them all that with his death died his movement. The military had been put under control, and discipline was restored – indeed, the Tsarina had made good on her promises that anyone caught looting or extorting the populace would be hung alongside the Communists. Now, with the terrorist activity quelled and the people allowed to move freely without harassment, things were starting to return to normal in Russian society. Talks of another revolution or even a civil war were but the grumblings of a few. The vast majority of Russians were rallying around their beloved empress.

4pMjlop.png

Of course, there were other concerns in the world. The Spanish Civil War, for example, had taken another interesting turn. Already there had been confusion with the split between Spanish Communists and the Spanish Republican forces. Now, there was further confusion as the Nationalists experienced their own split. The Carlists had risen up against the predominantly Falangist Nationalist movement. Led by Manuel Fel Conde, they took over much of the northeast section of the country, and began to fight all opposing forces along their borders. The Nationalists, led by Emilio Mola, maintained control over the northwest section of the country. Now, there were four factions in the Spanish Civil War, each one fighting the other. Wrangel was thankful that, even in the darkest days of the Russian Civil War, things never got quite this chaotic.

vozyfyv.png

Russia also had concerns over Poland. The Polish government was seeking an alliance “between the seas”, and were already opening up diplomatic talks with Lithuania in an effort to move towards this. If they were able to form an alliance with the Baltic States, this would place a substantial power bloc along the Russian border. Coupled with the now enlarged United Kingdom of Sweden-Finland, this threatened to undo what little defense the Pact of Petrograd had offered. The Russian military was not yet ready to meet any foreign enemies, and an alliance between Poland and the Baltic States – let alone Sweden – would prove a match for the Empire.

ZyYKhat.png

The war in the east was also being monitored by Russian intelligence. Japan had recently take Beijing, the ancient Chinese city, and were pushing southward. Although the Chinese had been fighting hard for every square inch of ground lost, the casualties were disproportionate. Already, almost 400,000 Chinese soldiers had been lost, while Japan and her allies had lost just about 57,000. Russia was seeking to improve relations with China in the hopes of perhaps offering assistance, but diplomats were also pondering a potential move to ensure peace with Japan. The last thing the Empire needed was a repeat of 1903.

ulrioUi.png

And then, of course, there was Germany – the strange wild card smack dab in the middle of Europe. There were pressures from Nationalist Socialists in Austria to push for a referendum regarding the unification between Austria and Germany, in the hopes of creating a “Greater Germany” to unite the German peoples. Some pondered if this unification of Germans would come to include other areas of Europe, such as the Sudetenland, Memel, or Danzig. Wrangel was uncertain, but Russia would keep an eye on Germany for sure.

“How is the Empress fairing?” Maksim Lobanov asked. He sat across from Wrangel, puffing on a cigar. The thick smoke formed around his head like a darkening cloud.

“She is fairing quite well,” Wrangel began. “Her spirits are strong, and I can see the fire she had in her youth being redirected towards leadership.” He frowned then. “Although she sometimes has episodes at night.”

“Episodes? What do you mean?”

“Apparently, she suffers from nightmares at times. She has recurring dreams of her family being murdered, and her own pain and terror from the episode. She wakes up screaming and breathing heavily. Her husband calms her down, and most of the time is able to help her get back to sleep, after which she rests fine. The night patrols heard her cries at first, but her husband said it has happened for some time.”

Maksim shook his head. “Poor girl.”

Poor girl indeed, Wrangel thought. He had seen the horrors of war, and some had been so bad that he couldn’t eat for days. To see your own siblings and parents brutally murdered before your eyes? He could not imagine what it did to her psyche. Even after forgiving the man who gave the order, that wasn’t something you just shrugged off. It may be quite some time before Anastasia could overcome it. “Otherwise, she is fine. Her children have done well with their training.”

“Yes, that Olga is quite the charming little lady. She’s into fit the princess mold quite well.”

A little too well, Wrangel thought. She really was quite the beautiful young woman, and seemed enthusiastic about her new role. Not to mention that everywhere she went, she seemed to get the attention of any male nearby. There had been more than one occasion where he’d seen her walk down a line of soldiers in review, and seen every set of eyes on the young men desperately try to follow her as she walked by, even if their bodies and heads remained perfectly still.

Maksim continued. “Little Alexander seems to be managing, even if he still has much to learn. Although… who is this Brother Isaac fellow who tutors him?”

Wrangel chuckled. “Brother Isaac is his spiritual tutor and character instructor. He came most highly recommended by the church.”

“Are you certain they did not recommend him as a joke? Perhaps their intentions were misunderstood.”

There were some days when Wrangel pondered if that was the case, but… the Patriarch was not one to joke. Especially about his monks. “Isaac may be eccentric, but I am certain he is capable. In the meantime, I want you to prepare a presentation to the Duma about the Empress’ newest proposals.”

“Oh? And what is that?”

“Why, land reform,” Wrangel said. “The Communists are defeated, but we still have much to deal with. Our economy is still suffering, after all. We have not fully recovered from the financial meltdown spilling about the world.” That was a gentle way to put it – Russia’s economy was still a mess. The people may be in high spirits for now, but even another market crash happened, or the government toppled from an inability to meet payments… those high spirits would disappear, and quickly.

“Ah, and what is the Empress’ plan with land reform?”

“Simply this: she plans to reinstate the nobility, though on a limited function.”

QXO2jbo.png

“Ah! Well, that will be seen as backwards to some people.”

Wrangel smirked. “And your job, Maksim, will be to make people see it as moving forward.”

“I shall try. I’m a politician, not a magician.”

Wrangel chuckled. “At times there is no difference. After all, both positions involve winning people over with silly words.”
 
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Reinstating the nobility is a wild idea. Strikes me more than a little as a suitable analogue to the oligarchs claiming the spoils of the USSR: land being parcelled out and given back to the boyars. Maksim has his work cut out selling that one.

That four-way Spanish war is a sight to behold, also. Here’s hoping democracy prevails.
 
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A four way battle in Spain, now that is quite a sight indeed. Seems things won't come to a resolution anytime soon in that part of the world. And the Chinese are taking far more casualties than the Japanese alright, especially with Beijing being taken, time will see (and if the AI gets competent enough) if they can bounce back, or we might as well see a Japanese empire stretching in the coasts of China. Reinstating the nobility? That's gonna be quite a concern alright, especially for Trotsky and his people.
 
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Spain: But wait, there is more!

But in all seriousness, good job in this chapter and I will be interested in seeing what will happen in the future against Germany or even Poland.
 
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Now, there were four factions in the Spanish Civil War, each one fighting the other.
A good start. With any luck, the other two factions will each split too, making it a six way cage fight! o_O
The Polish government was seeking an alliance “between the seas”, and were already opening up diplomatic talks with Lithuania in an effort to move towards this.
Ah, inklings of the old Commonwealth re-forming? Could be trouble if it pushes south-east.
“Isaac may be eccentric, but I am certain he is capable.
Uh oh, not another Rasputin figure!? :eek:
“Ah! Well, that will be seen as backwards to some people.”
More than a teaspoon of sugar may be required to make that medicine go down. :oops:
 
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Good heavens, Spain looks absolutely disgusting. Strong Kaiserreich vibes coming from Iberia
 

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That four-way Spanish war is a sight to behold, also. Here’s hoping democracy prevails.
A four way battle in Spain, now that is quite a sight indeed. Seems things won't come to a resolution anytime soon in that part of the world.
Spain: But wait, there is more!
Good heavens, Spain looks absolutely disgusting. Strong Kaiserreich vibes coming from Iberia

Spain did get pretty crazy in this game. In all honesty, I'd never seen it get into four different factions before. I've seen cases where the Republicans won, but that was about it. Definitely makes the AAR more interesting.

Reinstating the nobility is a wild idea. Strikes me more than a little as a suitable analogue to the oligarchs claiming the spoils of the USSR: land being parcelled out and given back to the boyars. Maksim has his work cut out selling that one.

Or even post-Cold War Russia for that matter. Hopefully it won't be quite like that - it will certainly not be written out that way.

And the Chinese are taking far more casualties than the Japanese alright, especially with Beijing being taken, time will see (and if the AI gets competent enough) if they can bounce back, or we might as well see a Japanese empire stretching in the coasts of China.

Future updates will show. China isn't over yet. They're certainly holding they're own in this mod than they normally do in Vanilla HoI4. (China being a single united country probably helps with that.)

Ah, bringing back the old shoulder boards too I hope!

Speaking of, what does the officer corps look like?

Most of it involves men who served as generals for the White faction during the Russian Civil War. More personalities will come to the forefront in later chapters.

Uh oh, not another Rasputin figure!? :eek:

Not QUITE like that...
 
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Chapter 19
Bobrova


20 April, 1938

Bobrova was, as she often was during the day, sitting in her office, seemingly permanently glued to her seat. With her position getting busier and busier every day, she was surprised that she hadn’t just evolved into becoming part of her chair. At the moment, she was working over paperwork for this project and that, while nearby the radio played the latest news in between musical numbers. The young woman who narrated the news (Moscow Masha was the nickname some had given her, wasn’t it?) continued with the latest updates from within Russia and around the world.

“In Spain, the Carlists have already been crushed by Falangist forces, ending the division within the Nationalist camp. The Falangists are solidifying their hold in the northwest, while the Republicans and Communists continue to combat one another in the southwest.”

Bobrova felt pity for the Spaniards – and not just the residents of Madrid, a city which had changed hands several times during the war. The Spanish Civil War had been going on for almost two years now, with no clear end in sight. The Carlists had risen up as a faction last year, but had surrendered in January. Now there were the Falangists in the northwest, the Republicans in the southeast, with the Communists in between. The Communists seemed to be focusing on eliminating the Republicans, while at the same time keeping the Falangists from overrunning their northern flanks. The war was continuing to be a brutal one.

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Meanwhile, Russian industry had been improving steadily the past year. Machine tools had been improved by February, and Bobrova had pushed to finance tests for synthetic oil. Better excavation tools had also been developed, which excited those within the interior ministry, since that would mean expanding Russia’s internal resources. This proved to be a reality, as the government quickly financed an expansion not only of the iron mines near Kursk, but the aluminum plants outside both Petrograd and Kamensk. This not only meant more internal resources, but more industry and, of course, more jobs. This made everybody happy.

EIycNgC.png

Of course, this didn’t mean Bobrova had lost any problems with the military. Alexander Kolchak, the famous admiral, had been assigned Chief of Navy back in January, and was pushing to have the Russian navy improved, since it hadn’t seen upgrades since the last war. Although his ambition was, for now, tamed, it was only because other factions in the military carried larger voices. Bobrova’s efforts to have a more mobile computer system put into place had been curtailed by the army to advance research into better infantry support weapons. Artillery upgrades and tactical planning were also sent to the forefront.

Still, there were moments where Bobrova and the military saw eye-to-eye. There had been complaints from generals regarding the inadequate roads leading to the east, which hampered their moments towards the borders with Japanese territory. As a result, Bobrova moved for an expansion of infrastructure in Russia’s open middle. An expansion of military factories were also planned.

ecr5o8P.png

Speaking of expansion… Bobrova had some concern that the military was going to be given greater focus in the months to come. There were murmurings in the ranks of government that the Empire was looking westward, at the land that had formally belonged to Russia. The Empress had made mention in her speech at her coronation that all lands formerly owned by the Romanovs would be brought back under the Russian eagle… and it appeared that she as making good on her promise.

pXorDDo.png

Still, whether westward or eastward… the Empire would need a working industry and interior to make it all happen. And that was where Bobrova and others with her stepped in. It was a thankless job, but she recognized it as an important one. She just hoped she wouldn’t be stuck to her chair one day.
 
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Spain just can't seem to find a break at all. At least the news upon the motherland is a welcome one, despite the bold claims made by the Tsarina
 

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One down, three contenders in Hispania left. And yet still no clear end in sight for those folks. Seems the Civil War there is going to be around for a few more years, that said, a Communist Spain ought to be very interesting to see if they ever get their stuff together. And Russia's steadily rebuilding itself, glory indeed to the Tsaritsa!
 
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Who would win in Spain the government in Gibraltar, the group who wants a world revolution or a government who obviously wants to fraternize with the Fascists?
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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Small bit of patting myself on the back: I was one of the finalists for the Empire of Sin short story contest. I didn't win, but congrats to those who did. :D

You can read it here.

Spain just can't seem to find a break at all. At least the news upon the motherland is a welcome one, despite the bold claims made by the Tsarina

Bold claims shmold claims. Revanchism and the 1930's goes hand in hand.

One down, three contenders in Hispania left. And yet still no clear end in sight for those folks. Seems the Civil War there is going to be around for a few more years, that said, a Communist Spain ought to be very interesting to see if they ever get their stuff together. And Russia's steadily rebuilding itself, glory indeed to the Tsaritsa!

I seriously was surprised how Spain went in this game, though I think I've mentioned that before. Maybe the lack of Soviet influence did something.

Who would in Spain the government in Gibraltar, the group who wants a world revolution or a government who obviously wants to fraternize with the Fascists?

Sadly, I'm certain Jose Antonio de Primevera dies in this timeline, too.
 
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Communist Spain without the Soviets mucking everything up would be really interesting to see. Here’s hoping they can get their act together in time to avoid being rolled over by the resurgent Falangists. I was hoping the Carlists could have caused a bit more problems on that end, but obviously it wasn’t to be.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Communist Spain without the Soviets mucking everything up would be really interesting to see. Here’s hoping they can get their act together in time to avoid being rolled over by the resurgent Falangists. I was hoping the Carlists could have caused a bit more problems on that end, but obviously it wasn’t to be.

Yeah the Carlists turned out to be the Cleveland Browns of the Spanish factions.

And it would be funny if all it takes for the Communist/Republican faction to win is to remove the Soviet AI.
 
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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 20
Alexander


29 June, 1938

Ever since his mother had taken the throne, Alexander had been trained every day to be the future tsar. You’re the heir, he was reminded over and over again. He had to learn how to act like a ruler, how to understand statecraft, and how to lead his people even in the most dire of times that might befall Russia. He didn’t like much of the talk, since it seemed to consist of his mother being dead, and he had already experienced one dramatic moment where she had nearly been taken from him forever. You don’t forget a thing like that as a young man: when men barge into your home, drag you and your sister into the main room of the house, and point a rifle at your mother’s head. He was grateful the Okhrana agent came when he did, but you still didn’t forget a thing like that.

He also didn’t like the talks – as rare as they were – that he would need to marry and produce heirs of his own. This meant introducing him to every young lady who came to the palaces and, at times, “incidentally” leaving them alone together. He barely remembered any of their names – to him, they were all Grand Duchess La Dee Da, Countess Da Dee Da, and just plain Da. Some of them were certainly pretty to look at, and a few had forms that were quite nice for his youthful eyes to look at, but otherwise they were a bore, and carried little interest with him. It made things worse when Olga would gloat and fawn over every moment, talking about how handsome he looked with the various women, and how she just knew he would marry some ravishing young princess and have a dozen children. He wanted to stick his tongue out at her whenever she did.

Strangely enough, one of the few people he found comfort with, besides his parents, perhaps, was Brother Isaac. The strange monk had grown on him, and Alexander didn’t mind his company at all. Behind those rantings and strange smiles, he had noticed a strange glimmer of intelligence. There was something about the monk that made him more than meets the eye – Alexander just couldn’t put his finger on it. Even now, as they walked along the edges of the palace, he found the elderly monk far more approachable than many his own age. They had been walking along, with Isaac leaning forward on his walking staff, gently stroking the large, white beard that draped down from his face.

“Brother Isaac,” began Alexander, “do you think they would let me volunteer to serve elsewhere?”

“Hm? Ooooh, the Son of Sparrow wishes to fly! But it seems a hawk has laid the egg. Ah! But where would the hawk-sparrow fly, with one great wing and one weak one? In circles?”

“To Spain. I’ve heard that Germany and Italy sent some volunteers there. And I’ve heard the Communists have stormed Gibraltar! Gibraltar, can you believe it? They’re about to overrun the south. I could help there, and stop them. I can fight the men who helped murder my grandfather, aunts, and uncle.”

F6aOdAT.png

“Hmm…” Brother Isaac nodded, his gnarled hands still stroking his beard. “But a hawk does not leave eggs, the cuckoo does. And I see you do not sleep in clocks. You are a sparrow – best a sparrow tends to its own nest before seeking to fly elsewhere.”

Alexander frowned. “You’re saying that I should stay here and continue my studies.”

“Ah, my boy! I never quite know what I’m saying until my mouth quits moving!” Isaac chuckled.

“I just feel like I should be out there in the world somewhere. I have this opportunity now. Other nobles have fought, haven’t they? What about all the great Russian tsars who fought in the past? Like Ivan the Terrible?”

“Ooooh, Ivan the Terrible! Alexander the Terrible… no, perhaps Alexander the Melancholy. No…” Isaac waved his hands about and shook his head. “Ah, they will come up with a title for you. No doubt one shall be though up for your mother.”

Alexander let out a sigh and turned his face away. There would be no understanding this. “I just feel like I do little good here.”

“Ah, you must wait a few years before saving the world, I see. Our Blessed Lord had to wait thirty years before saving the world – imagine how He felt! And I must wait an eternity before I am any good.” Isaac chuckled.

Off in the distance, the sound of a large bell began to sound. Alexander gasped at it. “Oh my! It’s time for me to meet the Black Baron!”

“Oh my. You mustn’t keep the Black Baron waiting, even if you are speaking with the White Rooster. Now go, go my boy!”

Alexander hugged Brother Isaac and wished him well, then darted towards the palace doors. As soon as he entered, he cleared his throat and adjusted his clothes. His tunic had shifted a bit, and his belt and tilted, making him look unkempt. A few adjustments, and this was rectified. With slow, methodical steps that his military tutors had taught him, he continued down the halls. Guards were posted along the way, and each time he passed by one, they snapped into salute. He nodded to each one – it had been a strange experience at first, getting saluted wherever he went, but he had grown to become accustomed to it. When at last he came to the meeting hall, he turned the doorknob and entered.

Pyotr Wrangel, the famous Black Baron, stood there at a table, with maps and reports laid out before him. He had recently been appointed as Chief of the General Staff, which meant he came with a new title and specific duties. No doubt this was partially to give him more of an “official” role in government, since the full transition of power granted to Empress Anastasia had been all but accomplished. Although he still gave advise to the empress, Alexander had the feeling that Wrangel was happy to have some of the burden lifted off his shoulders and shared with someone else – he had clearly been holding the weight of all Russia on his back for far too long.

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Wrangel lifted his eyes and smiled at Alexander. “Your highness. Right on time. Please, come in. I’ve been reviewing some reports from China.”

Alexander closed the door and walked over. “What is happening in China?”

“Well as you know, Japan took Beijing not too long ago. However, they are still bogged down along the line where they’ve started.” He lifted up a sheet of paper and read it over once. “Our intelligence reports say casualties have risen quite high on both sides. China’s enemies have lost over 97,000 – 84,000 of those being Japanese. The Chinese, meanwhile… have lost nearly one and a half million people.”

Alexander’s eyes widened at that news. “One and a half million? They’ll lose the war.”

Wrangel grinned at the tsarevitch. “Ah, your highness, war is about more than numbers. At Verdun, in the last war, the French lost more men than the Germans, and yet they won the battle. Consider this: Japan’s alliance has lost 97,000, with very little to show for it. Now, China has a wealth of a population to draw from for soldiers… Japan does not. If Japan does not try to do something soon, their offensive will become a quagmire.” Wrangel lifted up another report. “Intelligence reports from our troops in Mongolia report that the battles are often one-sided. In one battle observed by our troops, the Japanese brought up approximately three divisions, while the Chinese had nine. As I said, the Chinese have manpower, and while the Japanese may be better armed and trained, they do not have the affordable manpower.”

KfNXz04.png

Wrangel lowered the report to the ground and looked more intently at Alexander. “I know the Japanese mindset, your highness. Their generals probably thought this would be an easy war. They probably swore up and down to their emperor that they would wipe the Chinese off the field in a matter of weeks, and the war would be over before the snow fell. Now? It has been a little over a year, and they are still stuck at the border, with little more than the capture of Beijing to celebrate. This is why I say war is more than just casualties. Do you understand?”

Alexander nodded. “I think so.”

“Let me tell you this: how do you think our armies would do if we invaded Poland and the Baltic States?”

“Poland and the Baltic States? Why, we would box their ears, for sure!”

Wrangel chuckled. “Why? Because we have a larger army? Your highness, our army is not yet ready. It is still adapting and adjusting to the war. Our weapons are still being modernized, and our troops still being better trained. We have done some war games, in the event of a war with Poland and some of the nations in the Baltics… and each one shows a hard fought struggle that would have little to show for it besides many Russian coffins.”

Alexander frowned. “Then what are we supposed to do?”

“Work on making an army that will do far better. That is what we are attempting to do here. And that is why I am training you – if you are to rule the Empire one day, you must learn that the military is not a toy to be thrown about at will.”

There was a sudden knock on the door. When Wrangel gave permission to enter, an officer came in, carrying a slip of paper. He handed it over, saluted, and was dismissed. Wrangel read it as the officer left. As he read the slip, his lips slowly curled into a frown. “I can’t believe it. They finally did it…”

“What’s wrong?” Alexander asked.

Wrangel dropped the report onto the table. “Germany just invaded Austria.”

“What? Do you mean there’s a war?”

“I doubt there will be. There’s no reports of resistance. Hitler is preparing to speak in Vienna about how he intends to incorporate Austria with the rest of Germany.”

pUSezZc.png

“What will happen next?”

“I’m not certain… but I fear he will not stop there…”

NG4FaKZ.png
 
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I’d almost forgotten that we still have to worry about Germany amongst all of this. The war is going to be horrible for everyone unless Russia can sort its army out. Assuming it actually wants to fight the Nazis, of course…
 
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