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Sino soviet war 1989

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  • Sino soviet war 1989

    late summer of 1989, after the bloody crackdown Tiananmen Square the chinese leadership is very unpopular and to shift attention from problems at home and whip up nationalist sentiment the party decides to renew the border disputes with USSR.
    With soviet attention shifted towards events in Europe and the Warsaw pact in decline towards of Gorbachev era, and their recent defeat in afghanistan the chinese leadership they have a golden opportunity to make gains in the soviet far east
    Their goals broadly
    1-isolate and destroy the soviet pacific fleet

    2-Destroy the trans siberian railways

    3-Occupy Mongolia

    4-Make a push towards vladivostock and possibly occupy it

    lets assume NATO/US pressure prevents this war from going nuclear

    What is the likely outcome ? What chances do soviets have ?

    lets focus on the conventional military aspects alone , keep the political ramifications out as much as possible

  • #2
    Originally posted by nastle View Post
    With soviet attention shifted towards events in Europe and the Warsaw pact in decline towards [the end] of [the] Gorbachev era,
    I know that you asked to keep the political ramifications out, but I think it needs to be said that nothing unites a country better than an invasion of their territory. Just like in WW2, the Soviets would likely present a united front against a common enemy and the USSR might actually last longer than it did.
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    • #3
      One thing I'd expect is the Soviets to invade from the "stans." They could have pushed into Western China with relative ease. This would be a repeat of the Sino-Soviet 1929 war.


      • #4
        Did they have the forces available in the stans to carry this out ?

        Can they protect Vladivastock from falling to the chinese ?


        • #5
          I doubt the Chinese would get very far in invading the Soviet Union in Siberia. The terrain is absolutely abysmal. To take Vladivostok, they have to cross two Mississippi sized rivers located on massive, swampy, flood plains. In between the terrain is mostly roadless arboreal forest growing in mountainous terrain.
          Vladivostok itself sits at the end of a fairly narrow peninsula that could easily be defended against pretty massive attack.

          This is the Amur, one of two that have to be crossed:

          This is the other half the year:

          The 1989 Chinese navy is not what they have today. On top of that, a naval war in the Sea of Japan, etc., is going to raise the ire of Japan, the US , and S. Korea.

          The 1989 Soviet Army is better equipped to deal with logistics at the end of pretty long lines of supply without railheads and roads than the PLA is. While the Chinese could probably take out the Trans-Siberian railway, I doubt they could keep it out of operation for long.
          Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 24 Jul 18, 02:10.


          • #6
            If China manages a surprise attack it might be able to isolate & even take Vladivostock, though it could be tough going. Occupying Mongolia will be easy. Keeping it might be trickier.

            By 1989 China had spent a decade reforming its military after the mess of the invasion of Vietnam. It had fought some pretty heavy engagements since then & improved its capabilities. Russia also has plenty of experience in Afghanistan, but morale has taken a hit. Russia is better equipped, but probably has fewer soldiers. Russia would seem to have a crucial edge in the air.

            Then there are the internal issues. China has a few cracks from the Tiananmen protests, but they are tiny fissures compared to the gaping holes opening up in the USSR. The question here will be 'who is prepared to fight for Russia?' Will boys from the Baltics, Ukraine, the Caucases & even parts of Central Asia be prepared to die in China for the USSR? Will Moscow be prepared to pull troops from those regions to fight a war against a billion people? What does the Warsaw Pact do?

            My bet is that this particular war unites China and fractures Russia. That means Russia has to hit hard & quick to force a result. China can hang on & bleed Russia. I'm betting a LOT of Russia ships head East to re-take or reinforce Vladivostock. A major incursion into Western China (which China will presumably have prepared for) and a huge bombing campaign. Warsaw Pact aircraft are committed, but pressure to send troops is either met with firm resistance or results in public unrest when troops are sent.

            At some point Russia makes it clear that NATO & the US can get stuffed and it will nuke Chinese cities unless it gets its territory back. China gets to keep Monglia. Both sides are hurt, but China emerges more unified. An already shaky USSR and Warsaw Pact get even shakier, with the break up hastened and possibly messier.

            Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson


            • #7
              In air and on the sea the qualitative difference is staggering, PLA and PLAAF is still 50s vintage in 1989 and soviets are atleast early 70s era

              and soviets have over 800 strike planes in far east alone many with PGM and relatively good avionics

              even their old su-15TM flagons will be sufficent to deter any chinease strike planes which in 89 would be mostly be Harbin H-5 and A-5 Fantan

              the swarms of J-6 will still likely be very effective as point defence interceptors though

              I doubt if soviets would need to use their latest hardware ( mig-29/31 and su-27) in the air, not needed and probably too expensive to operate

              The soviet navy if its simply keeps the chinese out of vladivastock that would be sufficent , no need to give battle to chinese as most of their naval vessels are littoral coastal units w/o much range and their subs would be relatively easy prey for soviet ASW frigates like Krivaks and Grishas

              the soviets may use large number of SSM like SCUD/FROG in thier conventional role to hit staging & rear areas to disturb chinese supply depots, troop concentrations and logistics ? Not sure how effective that would be

              I wonder how far will the chinese armored forces will cut into USSR before they run into maintinence , logistical constraints and are slowed down by air strikes

              DId soviets have any good cluster munitions ? it would be very useful against troops/vehicles with poor SAM cover.


              • #8
                I spoke to a friend of mine who has some expertise in this area. Turns out I WILDLY overestimated Chinese capabilities.

                He pointed out that in 1989 the PLA was barely able to invade Beijing, let alone Russia. The first few classes of Academy trained officers had barely graduated and combined arms training was in its infancy. Logistics were absolutely woeful. He actually laughed at the idea Chinese forces might get close to Vladivostock. In short, the Chinese military was up to murdering other Chinese & not a lot more.

                So, in my revised version Chinese forces get repelled at the border or close to it. They make some progress in Mongolia, but nothing they can hold. The Russian air campaign devastates the PLAAF & then starts working on infrastructure & population centres. Russia's combined fleets move to blockade major Chinese ports. Ultimately Russia is only limited by the availability of munitions to fire or drop....and the money to produce them.

                The Red Army moves into Western China, encouraging local populations to rise up. India is assisted in taking back territory lost in 1962. Vietnam decides not to take Russia up on similar offers on its land borders, but reclaims the Paracel islands & does provide some logistical support. Preferring to limit casualties there are no other deep penetrations into China, but defensible border areas are nibbled off.

                Not sure how this ends. China can try to hang on & take casualties in the hope that Russia can't sustain a long war, but elements of the population are restless and the West is in open revolt. Does China negotiate a peace involving loss of territory? What terms will Russia accept?
                Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson


                • #9
                  thanks for your input i appreciate it BF69
                  I will also dig deeper into the sources of this era and reply


                  • #10
                    I have done some more digging & had some conversations with a genuine expert on the Chinese military. Some takeaways:

                    *This is going to go nuclear in the first 24 hours.

                    *Chinese forces were deployed 100kms behind the border to provide strategic depth in case of a Russian invasion. So, to even attempt an invasion they would need to build logistics capacity & build up supplies. The Russians will notice.

                    *Chinese forces were really awful. The average Russian motorised rifle division had almost as much armour as the average Chinese armoured division, and it had only a fraction the number of those as Russia had. Russia had better tanks. Russian artillery was well ahead. The bulk of the PLAAF was MiG 19s or upgraded MiG 19s with a few MiG 21s. Russia had almost 1000 MiG 29s & SU 27s alone, and 1000 more fighters more modern than anything China had. That isn't even getting into bombers, ground attack, surveillance & helicopters. Russia had stuff the Chinese couldn't hit. Then there are the various sorts of missiles, from medium range to SAMs. The only advantage China has is home turf & the possibility of strained Russian logistics.

                    *In the preceding decade China cut its military by half. The military budget fell by 6-7% per annum. That allowed some modernisation, but it also meant a lot of disruption. Add to that the re-integration of the concept of ranks and attempts to modernise doctrine and you have a very unsettled organisation. While the Russians have had issues in Afghanistan, they have also spent over 60 years training for and putting into practice 'big unit' doctrines, especially to do with massed armour.

                    *The first Russian move will be to send an army straight at Lop Nor, where significant Chinese nuclear forces were based. The Russians calculated that it would take the Chinese 24 hours to launch their missiles. As the only Chinese nukes capable of hitting Moscow were at Lop Nor they have to go. The Russians will use tactical nukes, airborne troops, overwhelming air power and armour to slice through Chinese forces and take Lop Nor. This, in turn, will threaten splitting China & the loss of Western provinces.

                    *China will basically have to hold on & hope the Russians exhaust themselves. The Russians won't over commit ground forces - so likely no attack on Beijing or attempts to hold much beyond the West. They will focus on smashing Chinese units & use air power to do serious damage to Chinese military & civilian infrastructure.

                    The bottom line here is that attacking Russia will cost China dear. It will suffer massive attrition of its military forces (except perhaps the navy) and more. It will face unrest in the western provinces & Tibet. Deng will take a massive hit to his position so soon after Tiananmen Square and might even be removed. This would put the future of reform in China in doubt. Russia would also face consequences. This would strain its resources and possibly speed the breakup of the USSR, though that was already pretty close.
                    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson


                    • #11
                      Thanks very helpful
                      can you comment on the following
                      1-Russia had almost 1000 MiG 29s & SU 27s alone
                      which source did you rely on , I agree with you that yefim gordon does state in 1990 USSR had like 800 mig-29 and 300 + su-27.Do you have another source ?
                      The Russians will use tactical nukes, airborne troops,
                      what delivery methods do you think they will rely on ? SCUDs or strike aircraft ? by 1989 most of their IRBM are dismantled

                      do u think the PAF ( paksitan airforce) will deploy their units to help the PLAAF ?

                      Thanks again
                      Last edited by nastle; 22 Sep 18, 18:02.


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