CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

Unlike many other autonomous regions throughout the old Soviet Union,

Ukraine had few internal ethnic conflicts. Most of the region’s large

Tatar populations had been forcibly resettled in Central Asia during the

1940s; the only real ethnic hostilities remaining were those between

Ukrainians and Russians. Eastern Ukraine had a high percentage of

Russians in the population, most of whom favored strong ties with

Moscow; from the few reports coming out of Russia to the West, strongly

nationalistic Ukrainians had precipitated a blood-bath among ethnic

Russians, killing hundreds of thousands–perhaps millions–and sending

millions more fleeing across the border into the already devastated

lands of the Russian Federation.

Besides that, the old dispute between Kiev and Moscow over the ownership

of the Crimean Peninsula and the Black Sea Fleet remained. With Russia

involved in its civil war, Ukraine appeared poised to settle the issue

once and for all. .. by threat if possible, by military force if

necessary. According to the most recent intelligence available to the

Jefferson battle group, the Ukrainian Fifth and Seventh National Armies

were in position at Odessa and at Melitopol, ready to move in and seize

the Crimea from its Russian caretakers. Amphibious landing craft were

being gathered at Odessa and at both Ocakov and Svobodnyj Port at the

mouth of the Dnieper, lending credence to CIA and U.S. Naval

Intelligence predictions that an invasion of the Crimea–both overland

across the narrow isthmus to the north and by sea, along the beaches

north of Sevastopol–was imminent.

Though distracted, the Russians had been trying their best to bolster

their defenses in the Crimea. Since Ukraine blocked all approaches

across the isthmus, their main line of communication ran across the

narrow straits of Kerch, from an arm of the Russian Federation that

flanked the Black and Azov Seas from Novoazovsk to the Georgian frontier

at Gagra. Most of that bolstering had taken the form of military

flights–transports and air escorts–flying in from Krasnodar. No one

was quite sure at the moment whether Red or Blue forces held the upper

hand, either in the Crimea or at Krasnodar. For a time, there’d been

speculation among U.S. intelligence officers that those flights out of

Krasnodar were in fact an invasion, one civil-war faction moving in to

take Sevastopol away from the other in a three-cornered tug-of-war

between Reds, Blues, and Ukrainians. So far, though, there was no

indication that this was the case. Supply flights were moving in and out

of the various Crimean military and commercial airfields with an almost

clock-like regularity, and so far the Ukrainian forces had not attempted

to hinder them. .. or to deliver the expected attack on the peninsula’s


But the situation was becoming more dangerous–explosively so–day by

day. If the northern half of the Black Sea, from Odessa to Gagra, became

a war zone, it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for the UN-U.S.

forces in the area to stay clear of the fighting.

And now, three days after the accidental sinking of a Russian sub in the

southern Black Sea, a Russian general named Boychenko, the de facto

military ruler of the Crimean Peninsula, had just offered to surrender

military control of the district to the United Nations. One of

Boychenko’s people had approached the U.S. ambassador to the UN with the

proposal during discussions of the return of the Russian submariners now

aboard the Jefferson.

“I really wonder if it’s our interests that are being served here,”

Scott said. “Let’s put this in perspective. First off, Boychenko is the

Military Governor of the Crimea. After Krasilnikov declared martial law

during the coup against Leonov, he became what amounts to the absolute

ruler of the entire Crimean region. We’re not talking about some small

unit commander wanting to turn over a few pieces of heavy artillery

here. This is the equivalent of having an entire country ask for UN


Lloyd nodded agreement. “Admiral Scott’s right,” he said. “It’s

completely unprecedented. If the UN accepts this arrangement, they’re in

effect declaring the Crimea to be under the authority–and the

protection–of the United Nations Security Council.”

“That’s what Boychenko’s counting on,” Scott went on. “The only reason

he’s decided to make this offer is the fact that he’s got a Ukrainian

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