Note: This is intended to be a relatively open timeline; please contribute if you want, but be plausible and in line with the scenario. Anything I don't approve of can and will be deleted. Also, this is not meant to be an actual prediction, merely a hypothetical.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION FROM A WORLD WAR III ARTICLE
The Tskhinvali War was a regional conflict, primarily in the Caucasus region, the Middle East, and Asia that lasted from 13 September 2048 with the first declarations of war until the Siege of Tskhinvali on 1 November 2053.
The conflict emerged from the Nagorno-Karabakh between the Post-Soviet satellite states of Armenia and Azerbaijan that saw action through the 1980s until the 2030s when an agreement was made to merge the two countries, primarily as a force for South Ossetia. Emerging as "Ossetia" under the leadership of Mikhail Voronin, later renamed "Justinian III" in a series of treaties as unification under a Post-Soviet banner, Ossetia controlled much of the Caucasus and southeastern European region, absorbing Georgia, Abkhazia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary into its sphere of influence. Subsequent declarations of war were made by the European Union, supported by the United States, in 2048 as it saw the now superstate of the "Ossetian Empire" as a threat to national security. In response, Ossetia formed the Istanbul-Nauru Union with Turkey with war in Eastern Europe to take back the conquered states. Russia joined the war as part of the European Union in response to an unprovoked attack made by Ossetia near its border, and opened theatres of war against the latter state and China in the Siberian and Caucasus regions.
Meanwhile, the United States assumed control of the Pacific theatre during World War III to combat China and North Korea, allying itself with South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The modern phase of the conflict began in February 1988. During the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989, ethnic tensions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis increased in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. As of 2017, public opinion on both sides has been noted as "increasingly entrenched, bellicose and uncompromising". In this context, mutual concessions that might lower tensions in the long term could, in the short term, threaten internal stability and the survival of ruling elites, hence leaving little incentive for compromise.
First Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988–1994)
The First Nagorno-Karabakh War, also known as the Artsakh Liberation War in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, was an armed conflict that took place in the late 1980s to May 1994, in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in a protracted, undeclared war in the mountainous heights of Karabakh as Azerbaijan attempted to curb the secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The enclave's parliament had voted in favor of uniting with Armenia. A referendum, boycotted by the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh, was held, whereby most of the voters voted in favor of independence. The demand to unify with Armenia, which began anew in 1988, began in a relatively peaceful manner. As the Soviet Union's dissolution neared, the tensions gradually grew into an increasingly violent conflict between ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azerbaijanis. Both sides made claims of ethnic cleansing and pogroms conducted by the other.
Inter-ethnic clashes between the two broke out shortly after the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan voted to unify the region with Armenia on 20 February 1988. The circumstances of the dissolution of the Soviet Union facilitated an Armenian separatist movement in Soviet Azerbaijan. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land. As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan. In the process they proclaimed the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Full-scale fighting erupted in the late winter of 1992. International mediation by several groups, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), failed to bring resolution. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured territory outside the enclave itself, threatening to catalyze the involvement of other countries in the region. By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave and also held and currently control approximately 9% of Azerbaijan's territory outside the enclave. As many as 230,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and 800,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia and Karabakh have been displaced as a result of the conflict, essentially cleansing Armenia and Karabakh from Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan of Armenians. A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in May 1994, leading to diplomatic mediation.
Some clashes occurred in the years following the 1994 ceasefire.
The 2008 Mardakert clashes began on 4 March after the 2008 Armenian election protests. It involved the heaviest fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1994 ceasefire after the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Armenian sources accused Azerbaijan of trying to take advantage of ongoing unrest in Armenia. Azerbaijani sources blamed Armenia, claiming that the Armenian government was trying to divert attention from internal tensions in Armenia.
Following the incident, on March 14 the United Nations General Assembly by a recorded vote of 39 in favor to 7 against adopted Resolution 62/243, demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Rise of Mikhail Voronin and Fang Shen
Related conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan continued throughout 21st century, notably the 2010 Nagorno-Karabakh clash (a scattered exchange of gunfire that took place on February 18 on the line of contact dividing Azerbaijani and the Karabakh Armenian military forces). Azerbaijan accused the Armenian forces of firing on the Azerbaijani positions near Tap Qaraqoyunlu, Qızıloba, Qapanlı, Yusifcanlı and Cavahirli villages, as well as in uplands of Agdam Rayon with small arms fire including snipers. As a result, three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one wounded. Fighting had continued into 2020 and 2021, with periodic clashes carrying over to the disputed South Ossetian region in the Caucasus.
Mikhail Voronin, an Armenian soldier involved in clashes with Azerbaijan, held strong anti-Western sentiment, particularly with a post-Soviet mindset against the United States and the entirety of Europe. After fighting with Armenia and Azerbaijan subsided with economic factors stemming from the global COVID-19 "coronavirus" pandemic in late 2020, Voronin was sent home to his native Armenia on the orders of his army superiors and applied to work for the Government of Armenia. He had previously spent time as a law student at the Baikal State University of Economics and Law in Russia, but immigrated back to Armenia once fighting with Azerbaijan reached its height. Within a month, once being reviewed by smalltime government officials, was accepted as a party member of the Second Pashinyan government.
Apparently, Voronin regularly attempted to coerce his associates to think like him, to harbor statements as threats to the Western world. He was regularly shut down though, thought of as ludicrous to even take on a power like the United States or Europe. In June 2021, once the COVID-19 pandemic was finally taken care of with vaccines from the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan proving effective, Voronin took a diplomatic trip as deputy to Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to Beijing, China. At the Embassy of Armenia to China, Voronin met Fang Shen, who he convinced that they could fund a new world order, free of "Western imperialism" and instead have a world without constant American or corporate interference. China also took a reverse effect in its economy; the COVID-19 pandemic caused a particular blow to the country's international image, with fear, regional discrimination in China, and racial discrimination within and beyond China increased with the growing number of reported cases of infections despite calls for stopping the discrimination by many governments. China was also seen as a particular player in the Second Cold War, or rather as a country that is damning to the peace of the world. Shen, an ultranationalist, was mortified by the disrespect to his country, and vowed to work with Voronin to craft his "new world order." as he saw the Chinese Communist Party as weak to improve their image.
Both Voronin and Shen became partners, exchanging ideas with each other to a wide range of Soviet/Modern Russian and Chinese communist and socialist ideals. Together they crafted what would outline the what would become the Те для большинства (translated as "Ones For The Majority"; likely a reference to numerous feared Cossack groups that became prominent during the Russian Civil War) and 中国大酒店 (translated as the "Chinese Grand Party"). While both of their political parties were set, Voronin ran opposed to the Civil Contact, Mission Party, Prosperous Armenia, and Bright Armenia, completely running his party down to the ground in the parliamentary election of 9 December 2023. To increase its appeal, Ones For The Majority changed its name to the National Mandate of Cossack Hetmanate (known colloquially as the "Cossack Hetmanate"). Cossack Hetmanate was previously a region in Ukraine that resided the feared Russian Cossack warriors, and Voronin thought it would inspire courage and the toppling of authority in potential followers. He and Shen designed the symbol of the party, a hammer and sickle that was previously used for the Soviet Union flag, intertwined with a Cossack soldier. Meanwhile in China, Fang Shen likewise attempted to run against the Chinese Communist Party in a bid that would land him forced labor for five years for denying the rule of the CCP.
Both were enraged at their failed efforts, and vowed revenge. Both had only garnered about 100 followers in 2028, most of them similarly disenfranchised and failed politicians or those who've felt like they had no voice in their country. Voronin believed that everything he stood for was "stabbed in the back" by the Armenian government, particularly as the Armenian Army was popularly thought to have been undefeated in the field of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He also came to believe that the current Russian Federation was weak for submitting to the United States during the First Cold War, and made it his personal mission to unite the Soviet Union any way he could.
Vowing to commit to their goals in any way possible, Voronin and Shen began to plot various ways that would strengthen the Cossack Hetmanate and the Chinese Grand Party, including gathering more followers through propaganda online. They began to write through web browsers that would promote their cause. One of the websites, titled gainyourfreedom.com has since been shut down. On these websites, it would normally be messages with the most popular being "We Will Always Resist" and "Never Will We Walk Alone" in Cyrillic and Chinese. This allowed them to garner another 500 committed followers online. Online followers were primarily from Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
In 2029, followers of Cossack Hetmanate, resembling a cult united behind their common cause for freedom from Western influence, anti-Imperialism, and capitalism, led by Voronin and Shen going by aliases of their last names, began to hatch a plot for a coup d'etat of the Armenian and Chinese governments in hopes to gain power. They announced that he would hold 10 mass meetings beginning on 27 January 2029. Once becoming aware of the separatist group in their country, one of President of Armenia Aleksandr Krikorian's act was to ban the announced meetings and try to arrest the involved sectors. Voronin was under pressure to act. The Cossack Hetmanate, with other members in the Chinese Grand Party, hatched their plan to overthrow the Armenian government.
On 1 March 2029, 154 Cossack men disguised as diplomats rushed into the Armenian chancellery. Krikorian was killed by five bullets fired by Cossack Misha Dementyev. The rest of the government was able to escape with exceptions to two unnamed officials that were injured. This incident ended with Voronin and others in charge of the Armenian government, not as part of the conspirators. This was accomplished by bribing unsatisfied press officials and government officials, or by force from Cossacks. It was stated to the media that Krikorian actually stepped down due to health reasons, and eventually died of his undisclosed illness. Later on in April, another coup occurred in Beijing by members of the Chinese Grand Party, led by Shen. As a result of the coup, three generals, both Armenian and Chinese, were executed and many other officials and others fled the country. The Armenian and Chinese news media, including the Tsarist government, was also affected by the incident, including journalists who lived and worked there. The majority of the government officials that were involved either lost their lives in the conflict or had to be executed.
Armenian and Chinese expansionism; the establishment of the Ossetian Empire
Both Voronin and Shen assumed control through their power of Cossack Hetmante and the Chinese Grand Party, establishing their positions as one party dictatorships. The concept of both a unified second Soviet Union and a more powerful China took form based on their concepts that they "only dreamed about before" as Voronin put it in a press conference. Mikhail Voronin, new President of Armenia, said that the new Armenia was to be the equivalent in the Caucasus region as the eastern Asian states were to the Empire of Japan in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Meanwhile, international reactions were pleasant, but rather suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the sudden change in power in Armenia and China. As the Armenian and Chinese media were rather quick to portray the two countries in a more positive light in the media, they had to deal with a media barrage from foreign governments, primarily the United States and the American Congress, which, because of the Soviet-era propaganda campaign, led to further distrust between the two countries. While Russia and Armenia previously had close ties, they were severed once Armenia began testing missiles close to Russian borders and refused to sign a treaty that would end the tests. China also resumed tests in the South China Sea, much to the dismay of Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the United States.
Voronin and the Cossack Party succeeded in the conclusion of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that finally brought peace to the Caucasus region in Armenia's favor. As an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, overseen by Georgia as it sold the de-facto region of South Ossetia to Armenia. Now with South Ossetia's resources, Armenia began to build foreign relations with China under Shen in cunning ways, as well as the Chinese allies of North Korea, Pakistan, and Mongolia. In July 2032, Armenia culminated in a campaign to assist an increasingly powerless Azerbaijan. A summit took place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where Voronin and Azerbaijani president Dhani Streiner came to an agreement where Armenia and Azerbaijan would unite under Armenian influence to assist the country in its time of need. South Ossetia was still a point of interest between the two countries, so both decided to rename their country “Ossetia”.
This move was met with praise by both country’s citizens, particularly in Azerbaijan who favored the Armenian leadership. It was also praised by the United Nations and European Union
Torpedoing of the Widaehan
On 30 October 2048, the South Korean luxury cruise Widaehan (translated as “The Great Traveller”), set sail from the coastal city of Sokcho, nearly 255 km from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. It’s original route was through the Korea Strait and into the Sea of Japan, originally a destination for two weeks. However, a few days into the trip, a North Korean vessel was spotted making “erratic maneuvers” towards the cruise ship, and following it as it was nearly 500 miles from Japan’s northern coastline. It was also detected by Japanese radar and coast guards.
The North Korean vessel followed the South Korean cruise for another 100 miles throughout the next day and a half, making the passengers worried. All of a sudden, on 5 November 2048, the North Korean vessel began firing at the South Korean cruise, blowing it up and immediately killing 150 people. Some tried diving into the sea, but they either drowned or contracted hypothermia. No survivors were reported.
The North Korean vessel’s captain, Sol Dae-Chu, was charged with war crimes in Beijing following the war, but escaped prosecution by going to Singapore, beyond the jurisdiction of Western courts.
Although heavily debated throughout most of modern military history, conscription and drafts were utilized by many Allied and Istanbul-Nauru countries. It was especially unpopular among minority ethnic groups—especially the Roman Catholics in the United States, Ireland and Australia, and the French Catholics in Canada and Belgium.
Russia had a form of conscription at the outbreak of the war, as compulsory military training had been introduced as far back as the Tsardom throughout the Enlightenment period. The typical term of service was 12 months, although this was increased to two years for stronger assistance and manpower for the war effort, and eligible age was young men between 18 and 33 years old. Deferments were provided to undergraduate and graduate students, men solely supporting disabled relatives, parents of at least two children and — upon Presidential proclamation — and to some employees of military-oriented enterprises. Men holding a Ph.D., as well as sons and brothers of servicemen killed or disabled during their military service, were released from conscription.
Conscription in the United States had been employed by the federal government of the United States in six conflicts: the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Active conscription came to an end in 1973 when the United States Armed Forces moved to an all-volunteer military. However, conscription remained in place on a contingency basis and all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they lived, and male immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, residing within the United States, who were 18 through 25 were required to register with the Selective Service System. United States federal law also continued to provide for the compulsory conscription of men between the ages of 17 and 45 and certain women for militia service pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and 10 U.S. Code § 246.
The United States saw two primary theatres during the Third World War: the Eastern Front against the Ossetian Empire and Turkey, allied with Russia, the United Kingdom, and various countries of the European Union, and the Pacific Theatre against China and North Korea, allied with South Korea, Japan, and other Pacific countries. Facing a dilemma to handle both theatres of the war, Congress decided to pass the draft for the United States Armed Forces in December 2048, nearly three months after war was declared. As aforementioned, men between the ages of 17 and 45 were drafted into the war, especially those who had already registered. It was not uncommon for soldiers to be plucked out of university or even high school in some circumstances for military service. Women in the United States were not allowed in combat roles, although many took up jobs for the wartime effort back home.
In the United Kingdom, conscription began in 2049 and was generally well received, with a few pockets of opposition in isolated rural areas, especially in overseas British territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar. During the war, the United Kingdom assumed command of the Pacific Anglosphere countries of Australia and New Zealand as part of the Anzus Act of 2047. In Britain and overseas territories, conscription resulted in the calling up of nearly every physically fit man—seven of ten million eligible. Of these, about 600,000 lost their lives. Most deaths were those of young unmarried men; however, 150,000 wives lost husbands and 200,000 children lost fathers. Protests to the draft were only nullified after a few weeks, then until it became a necessity and was recognized respectively.
Like all the armies of mainland Europe and the Caucasus region, the Ossetian Empire relied on conscription to fill its ranks. Officer recruitment, however, was voluntary. Young men in annexed states such as Georgia, Bulgaria, and Armenia were required just as much as Ossetia itself to fill the Armed Forces. Men between the ages of 18 and 30 were drafted, although some annexed states did make use of child soldiers.
Conscription in North Korea was not anything new, and occurred despite ambiguity concerning its legal status. Men were universally conscripted while females underwent selective conscription. Conscription took place at age 14; service started at 17 and ended at 30. Children of the political elites were exempt from conscription, as are people with bad songbun (ascribed social status in North Korea). Recruitment was done on the basis of annual targets drawn up by the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and implemented locally by schools. It is thought that North Korea made use of female soldiers on the battlefield to guilt enemy soldiers into society's moral stances on the harming of women, regarded as a form of psychological warfare.
Conscription first began before the Korean War. Initially, under the rule of Kim Il-sung, forced conscription was largely not necessary because the level of voluntary enlistment was high due to financial rewards. Under Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, and Kim Al-Yun these rewards had diminished.
Conscription in South Korea has existed since 1957, and was no different during the Third World War. It required male citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 to perform compulsory military service. Women were not required to perform military service, but they were allowed to join the military.
A conscription system was employed in China throughout the initial stages of the war. In practice, mandatory military service had not been implemented since 1949 as the People's Liberation Army has been able to recruit sufficient numbers voluntarily. Residents of the Special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, were exempted from joining the military.