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NATO and WEU military operations in Central and Eastern Europe 1989 to 1990

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Operation Cuirassier:

Operation Cuirassier was a NATO operation that began on October 24, 1989 as an offensive against Warsaw Pact forces in the German Democratic Republic. Five NATO countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - contributed forces to this operation.

Operation Dragoon:

Operation Dragoon was a NATO operation that began on October 24, 1989 as an offensive against Warsaw Pact forces in the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic. Two NATO countries - France and Germany - contributed forces to this operation.

Operation Hetairoi

Operation Hetairoi was a NATO operation that began on October 24, 1989 as an offensive against Warsaw Pact forces in the People's Republic of Bulgaria. Two NATO countries - Greece and Italy - contributed forces to this operation.

Spain and Portugal contributed forces to the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force.

Operation Uhlan:

Operation Uhlan was a planned NATO operation against Warsaw Pact forces in the Polish People's Republic and the Soviet Union. Seven NATO countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - contributed forces to this operation. After the Polish and Hungarian declaration of neutralitiy and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, NATO decided not to invade Poland.

Instead the British Army's 58th Army Group was "invited" by the Polish government to aid the Polish Armed Forces in subdueing the Soviet Northern Group of Forces. During this operation Soviets troops from the 20th Tank Division and the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division occupied Warsaw in an attempt at 'regieme' change. The Polish Government had already relocated to a secure command post outside the capital, so the Soviet plan quickly began to fall apart. However local Polish security forces were unable to eject the heavily armed Soviet troops and sent out an appeal to the 58th AG to come to their aid.

Unfortunatley the nearest units of the 58th AG, the British Guards Armoured Division and the Polish 16th Tank Division, were over 100km away from the Polish capital. However they both immediatley began a dash for Warsaw under heavy NATO air support, the 16th Tank Division winning the race by around an hour.

By this time most of the Soviet occupiers of Warsaw had decided to retreat to the East, however there were still two days of hard fighting by British and Polish troops before the last Soviet hold-outs were ejected. A jubilant Warsaw held an impromptu celebration for its liberators in the days that followed.

The armistice was signed on October 30, 1989, putting an official end to all fighting.

Operation Hussar:

Operation Hussar was a WEU operation that began on December 2, 1990 as an offensive against Soviet forces in the Ukraine. One NATO and eight WEU countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - contributed forces to this operation.

While the armistice signed on October 30, 1989 put an end to the war between the West and East, new conflicts broke out in the following and preceeding months:

- Caucasus Wars (1988 - 1996)

- Yugoslavian Wars (1989 - 1993)

- Baltic Civil Wars (1990)

- Ukrainian Civil War (1990 - 1995)

- Moldovan War (1990)

- ...

With the defeat of the Soviet Union, its military broken and growing nationalism among the Soviet Union's ethnic groups, more than 20 former Soviet Socialist Republics broke away. They were aided in their struggle for independence by Soviet troops more loyal to their ethnicity than to the Soviet leadership and so-called "Free Brigades" - former Soviet Prisoners of War and deserters who had been recruited by the United States of America during the war.

On January 24, 1990 the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's hastily assembled new parliament declared the Ukraine as an independent democratic state. The Soviet Union's leadership responded by declaring the state of emergency in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and orderred the 10th Guards Uralsko-Lvovskaya Tank Division into Kiev. However several Soviet military units and formations made up mostly by Ukrainian conscripts and officers pledged their allegiance to the Ukrainian parliament. By the evening elements of the 10th Guards Uralkso-Lvovskaya Tank Division had surrounded the Parliament Building in Kiev, which was only protected by the lightly armed internal security forces.

On January 25, 1990 an ad-hoc Ukrainian Motorised Rifle Division arrived in Kiev and a standoff ensued. When a column of Ukrainian tanks and trucks tried to run down a Soviet checkpoint, both sides opened fire. Within days the Ukraine is engulfed in a civil war. The Russian Republic supplied military hardware and advisors to Russian nationalists in the Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

On March 2, 1990 the United Nations Security Council adopts a resolution calling for an end to all hostilities between Ukrainian secessionist forces and the Soviet military. The United Nations Observers Mission in the Ukraine is established and tasked to monitor the ongoing civil war.

On September 3, 1990 the international media reported about ethnic cleasing and war crimes perpetrated by both sides for the first time. Thousands of refugees were living in cramped camps in Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

On September 19, 1990 Russian nationalist forces in the Southeastern Ukraine attacked Soviet government buildings and declared the establishment of Novorossiya comprising all Russian populated lands in the Ukraine.

On November 29, 1990 Soviet troops used chemical weapons against Ukrainian troops in Dnipropetrovsk killing less than 200 soldiers but more than 9.000 civilians and also fifteen military observers. The media outlets in Europe and North America reported about the use of weapons of mass destruction against secessionists in the Soviet Union. The German paper "Bild" claimed to have information about lost nuclear warheads and the involvement of RAF terrorists with revanchist elements within the Soviet military leadership.

One day later the heads of the Western European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland convened for an emergency meeting in Brussels and agreed to put an end to the civil war in the Ukraine by force. Novorossiya, the Soviet Union and the Ukraine were presented with an ultimatum to end all hostilities by December 1.

All three ignored the ultimatum.

In the early hours of December 2, 1990 military targets all over the Ukraine are attacked with precision-guided bombs and cruise missiles. The air attack was followed by a land invasion involving almost 100.000 soldiers and more than 800 main battle tanks - also in a daring raid airborne and airmobile forces captured WMD depots all over the Ukraine. Only supported by air these often merely battalion-sized forces had to hold out for up to two weeks until the main body of forces closed up to them. However almost 90 percent of the known WMD stockpile in the Ukraine were under WEU control. The Soviet leadership threatened to break the armistice signed only one year ago, but due to the military's difficult situation - few units were at adequate strength and most of the equipment was not operational - any plans of attacking Western Europe in retaliation for the invasion were discarded.

On December 5, 1990 the Ukrainian secessionist leadership contacted the Western European Union and offered to hand over its remaining stockpile of weapons of mass destruction as a token of goodwill. However in a backroom deal the Western European Union agreed to set up several "safe-havens" for civilians in Soviet controlled territory. The British 24 Airmobile Brigade was airlifted into the wartorn Kiev and secured two of the cities airports. Later that day, a British armoured column linked up with the 24 Airmobile Brigade. The Kiev Protected Area (KPA) - a small area in downtown Kiev - was quickly overran by civilians looking for food, water and safety.

On December 6, 1990 the Western European Union force was given an official United Nations mandate.

United Nations Mission in the Ukraine

The United Nations Mission in the Ukraine was a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Ukraine during the Ukrainian Civil War. It existed from December 7, 1990 to January 1, 2001. At its height, UNMU involved troops from 38 countries and numbered some 400.000 troops in total.

Operation Artemis:

Operation Artemis is an WEU operation that began on December 7, 1990 succeeding Operation Hussar. At its height, Operation Artemis involved troops from all European Union member states and numbered some 200.000 troops in total.

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