Some top Russian generals were outraged by the decision to hack the U.S. elections. Their anger against the Russian president may ultimately have huge consequences. That's the situation in my novel, "Deep Strike", about Russian hacking, rogue CIA agents, and a new, deranged American president. The name of my fictitious Russian President is Vasily Vasilovich Kozlov. The American president is Walter Stokes.
Here is a (slightly abridged) chapter featuring two of the generals.
Two men in jogging suits were walking in a birch and willow forest twenty-two kilometers west of Moscow. On the left was General Artyom Borovik, fifty-eight years old and commander of all Russian ground forces. It was a warm spring day, the trees budding, the woods filled with birdsong. It was General Borovik’s favorite time of year, heralding renewal, rebirth, new possibilities.
With him was his former superior, long-time friend, and mentor, General Sergei Petrov, sixty-eight, who’d retired from the army three years ago. There was no question Petrov was ailing. He was panting rather than breathing and his pale skin was like parchment stretched over his narrow, heavily lined face.
The two generals were neighbors, their dachas within two miles of each other. Borovik’s two-story wooden vacation home had been in his family for three generations. It was his sanctuary; a haven to escape from the endless intrigues and pervasive terrors of Moscow… but for the past few months he’d been unable to shake his foul mood.
“Cheer up, for God’s sake, Artyom,” said Sergei. “It is April. You are going to be seeing your grandkids. You are healthy, your wife is healthy.
“I know what season it is,” Borovik snapped, then felt further annoyed that he’d replied so sharply.
Petrov had been diagnosed with colon cancer last January. He was undergoing radiation but had been told he probably had less than a year to live. But Sergei Petrov had never been one to surrender. He’d survived the ruthless ins and outs of politics in this country for decades. He was walking slower than usual, stopping every now and then to catch his breath, but he kept up a steady stream of chatter.
“Look, Artyom, what is done is done. You cannot let it get under your skin. You will destroy yourself and your family.”
“For God’s sake,” said Borovik despite himself, “please stop telling me what I already know.”
What was incessantly gnawing at Borovik was what he viewed as the reckless decision by Russian President Vasily Vasilovich Kozlov to order his military hackers to attempt to influence the American elections. “I told Vasily Vasilovich he was playing with fire,” said Borovik. “It is asinine.”
“I know that is how you feel,” said Petrov, raising his arms. “Everyone knows. But Vasily Vasilovich did not heed your great wisdom. And it looks like he was right; Stokes won.”
In fact, both the generals knew that, at first, Kozlov never expected Stokes would actually win. The Russian president’s idea was to disrupt America’s so-called democratic system and undermine the leading candidate, whom Kozlov detested. He wanted to make Americans lose faith in their political parties and institutions. Then, when it looked like Stokes might really have a chance, Kozlov ordered his military hackers and propagandists to go all out. His goal now was to get the next America president to end the economic sanctions the U.S. had convinced its allies to impose on Russia. Those Draconian measures and travel restrictions were strangling Russia’s economy. More to the point, they were threatening Kozlov’s own huge wealth. Now, with Stokes’s victory, it looked like Kozlov was about to clean up.
“Vasily Vasilovich is still crowing like a rooster,” said Borovik, “to anyone who will listen. He does not care if the Americans know what his hackers did. He is proud of it. He wants everyone to know what he and Russia can do. Vasily Vasilovich and Stokes deserve each other.”
What infuriated General Borovik even further was that the man who’d convinced Kozlov to hack the U.S. was Borovik’s rival, General Alexei Abramovich, the brilliant, fast-talking head of Russia’s cyberwar division. Under Abramovich’s leadership, the division’s staff and budget had skyrocketed over the past few years. They now had the effrontery to run recruiting ads on television showing a smiling Russian soldier laying down his rifle to pick up a laptop computer. They’d also recruited hundreds of programmers and hackers from private industry and even criminal gangs to come and work for the military.
General Abramovich argued there was no way Russia, with its tattered economy, could keep pace with the extremely sophisticated new weapons America was developing. Cyber war was a much cheaper but extremely effective method of wreaking great damage on the enemy. And Kozlov had agreed. In one heated session, he ridiculed General Borovik as an “old woman” for his tiresome warnings about the threat of U.S. reprisals. “The U.S. president,” said Kozlov, “has no balls.”
“You have to agree that Vasily Vasilovich was right.” said Petrov. “It has been a huge success. There is a good chance the sanctions will be lifted.”
“You are wrong, Sergei. In the end, it will backfire.”
“Admit it, what upsets you the most is that it is Alexei Abramovich, getting credit for it.”
“He is a turd!” Borovik spat onto the ground and turned to face Petrov. “A corrupt, lying piece of shit....
“Vasily Vasilovich may once have been a great KGB officer, a true patriot.” Borovik continued. “But he has become like the rest of them. He could not bear to stand by and watch all the other sharks tear away their pieces of our country. Vasily Vasilovich had to get the lion’s share for himself, billions and billions. He is one of the richest men in the world today.” Borovik’s voice rose with indignation. “And you and I stood by and watched. We were honest fools. ….
….“Now with Stokes in power in the U.S.,” said Borovik, “there is no limit to what they can do, the deals they can make. Their fortunes will become even more outrageous.”
“But neither I nor you can do anything about it,” said Ivanov wearily. “We can only sit and watch the rot. The press is silenced. The opposition leaders have been bought off or murdered or imprisoned. And the others…”
“Everyone is too scared to move,” said Borovik. “It’s like the Americans who know what is going on with Stokes. They are also sitting and watching and letting Stokes have his way, just like we’re doing with our own crooked leader. But I am not going to just sit and watch.”
“What else can you do?”
Artyom paused, considering whether to confide in his friend. “This is obviously not to be told to anyone else,” he finally said.
“Agreed,” said Petrov, “though I’m not going to be around much longer to talk to anyone about anything.”
“I have established a very small group of computer experts on my staff, hackers – two men and one woman, responsible only to me. They are all very good, all very upset with what is happening. They are using their talents to, shall we say, map out the wealth of our rulers: their real estate interests, their companies, their bank accounts, their offshore holdings.”
“And what will you do with this great prize?” asked Petrov. “Who will pay any attention?”
“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to use it,” said Artyom quietly. “Right now, it would bring nothing. Vasily Vasilovich and his people control the courts and the investigators and…”
“If he ever found out what you were doing,” said Petrov, “you would be a dead man, liquidated along with all your evidence.”
“But I have to do something. Keep gathering this information, keep my head down, watch, and wait. I may not be able to undo what is done, but that does not mean I have to accept everything until our homeland is totally destroyed.”
Petrov smiled with thin gray lips. “The only blessing from my illness, Artyom, is that I will never live to see that day.”
"Deep Strike" is available from Amazon in Kindle or soft cover.