The Dakoto Accord
Incindus looked puzzled as he sat waiting for the meeting to begin. He had been paired up with a man whom he considered a novice! Tiamat Fujin had become a fully qualified economist after gaining a first class honours from the Suichi Nakamura institute. He had then spent the next four years of his life, working from the bottom of the admin pile, to recently become the Undermeritocrat for Imports and Exports. He wondered how this slight man could be in charge of most of the external trade agreements for the whole of the Meritocracy. He did not need to wonder long however?
?They do not have much trust of us.? Tiamat stated bluntly. ?I do believe however that they trust the workmanship of our great nation. At the end of the day, it doesn?t matter which market system goods arise in, only that they are made to specification, cost and timescale.?
?They are a mighty nation and have the economies of scale to match. How do you hope to influence the trade discussions??
Incindus?s look changed from puzzlement to mild horror. To go into any discussions without a plan was almost unheard of in his line of work. He wondered how the Soviet delegation would take the man sat to his left.
"The Meritocracy wishes to enter into unilateral trade with the Soviet Union. We do not deal in tarrifs, aside from a brief period, but that official has retired and his mistakes rectified."
Incindus cringed and that brief incindent, remembering the crimson faces of the helpless members of the office of public accounts as they had to introduce the disasterous legislation
"Aside from the usual trading of industrial technologies and various advances in space technology, we wish to purchace from the Soviet Union, some military hardware, with options to adapt that hardware with other existing technology. Having reviewed the latest fiscal data, I am able to say that I am willing to spend $32 billion on the technology, with $9 billion going direct to the Soviet union in licence fees. The fee is negotiable to a point."
The Director of the Sovoboronexport State Corporation, Alexander Petlyakov, walked calmly inside the hall of the meeting and took his assigned seat, deploying his countless notes and customer catalogues in an insanely organised manner before him. Once he was done, he turned his hands into a unitary fist resting on the table, leaned back, and looked blankly at the Dim Quai representatives on the other side of the table.
This would be a controversial meeting, but it would bring more billions to the Soviet arms manufacturing enterprises; and Sovoboronexport would, once again, keep its share. Next to him came, seconds later, the Minister of Trade, late as usual; the busy woman of the Kremlin, Natalya Ulyanova, a woman in her late thirties that would remind you the average businessman of the West.
"Good evening" Natalya said kindly as she too deployed the army of papers she had. She and Alexander carefully listened to what the representatives of the Meritocracy had to say, making their own mental notes, each one of them. The blonde, graceful woman that led the Soviet representation shuffled through some papers before she spoke. "I am certain that we can achieve mutually beneficial agreements with a budget of 23,2p billion..." she said with a smile, quickly converting the dollars to roubles, with which she was more happy.
"I understand that the Meritocracy is interested in purchasing weapon systems, and... well? Transportation equipment, electronics, agricultural products, raw materials? Consumer goods perhaps?" the minister asked curiously, always look at her counterpart's eyes with a penetrating gaze. "To which requirements need we get accustomed on, in order to satisfy, geographically, technologically, or socially?"
Tiamat realised when he was being drawn in. This is what he was expecting. However, it was not in his interest to spend the budget surpluss this year. He regarded the woman across the table with interest.
"It is also a viable option to open trade negotiations in the steel industry. We wish to further expand our manufacturing industries. Also, we have undertaken to build a national network of mag-lev rail for use in the private sector and this in itself will consume more than our national output of the material."
Incindus leaned forward, he sensed that Tiamat was appraoching the end his requests and getting to the begining of assessing the trading needs of the Soviets.
"The Meritocracy is a net producer of energy. We have modest oil, gas and coal reserves. The real output comes from our nuclear operations. Technologies in that area would be available for trade discussions if you were so inclined. With regards to agriculture, we have some of the most productive farming practices in the EU as well as an efficient food manufacturing industry. We thank the Soviet minister and delegation for their kind offer in these areas."
Tiamat leaned forward slightly.
"How may we help the Soviet union in terms of trade? The Nation of Dim Quai has mineral wealth out of proportion with its size. We have sizeable deposits of aluminium, copper, zinc and" he gave a conspiratorial wink "platinum."
Petlyakov leaned back out of boredom. He had not been given the chance to offer what he was best at offering; the world's most advanced military technology available for export, as many could claim. His feeling could be seen in his eyes, but he at least tried to pretend he was paying attention to Natalya and Tiamat, who were on their own negotiations. The woman, however, was obviously keenly focused on the Dim Quaian across the table; perhaps as focused as a hawk on its to-become-meal.
"Please, please, one subject at a time, Mr. Tiamat" spoke Ulyanova, with Petlyakov's eyebrows being raised as the Minister of Trade caught his attention. "Let's begin with the fist subject you opened... As the region's largest arms manufacturer, my country definitely has things to offer to your nation." With a nod, she motioned to Petlyakov, who leaned back forward and passed the catalogue of products on the other side of the table. "Comrade Petlyakov?" Natalya said, whilst that was being done.
"Thank you, Comrade Minister" Petlyakov said, as he opened his own copy. "We are eager to listen to what conditions do you wish to test our systems at, as well as what fields would you like to focus on for the purpose of this arms contract." The pages Petlyakov had opened, in the book-form catalogue, were nothing short of the table of contents. The slightest glance would notice that the catalogue offered anything from ground systems such as tanks and armoured combat vehicles, to diesel-powered submarines, frigates, and cruisers.
"Concerning trade in other areas," interrupted Ulyanova, "we can move on to such discussions once we finish with this subject. The Soviet Union has the European Union's largest economy and market, and we are certain we can both find things to offer to each other, as well as ask for." Indeed, with over 653 million inhabitants and a per-capita income exceeding $36.160 (or over 20.430p), the Soviet Union was second to none in the entire European Union.
Tiamat squirmed slightly. He had already mentally pictured the hardware he would require. The deficits in the armed forces were known to him and few others in the Meritocracy. Now he would try to secure the materials for one of the best navies in the world, from one of the biggest military players in it.
"The Meritocracy prides itself on the diverse functions of it?s navy. I am somewhat familiar with Soviet naval machinery and would like to begin there. We would be looking to purchase several Mirage patrol boats as well as three cruisers. The only advanced system requirements are that the cruisers are equipped with the SMERCH-3 system. This would be an excellent addition to the fleet.?
?I would also like to add that the patrol boats should have universal guns on them. We are looking to standardize our weaponry.?
Incindus looked deeply embarrassed by this rookie blunder and was happy that he had been paying attention to the conversation.
Petlyakov quickly turned the pages of the catalogue he had before him to find the Mirazh class. "Ah, yes, the Mirazh. An interesting model, well situated for home water operations" he commented. "What cruisers are you, however, interested for? Any specific models in mind? And, also, how many patrol boats would you seek to acquire?" The ever-patient Ulyanova, next to him, was already considering the viability of exporting ships of that magnitude - entire cruisers - to another country, something almost unprecedented, though largely owed to the needs of the various customers up to now.
"What would you mean by, universal guns? I assume, no differences in the armament among the ships?" asked Ulyanova. Petlyakov had already guessed, she bet, but she wanted to be covered on the subject. If anything, this contract would be interesting - and perhaps even secure her ascension towards the Ministry of Economics someday, when the position was up for grabbing. She then focused on preparing her offers and counters for trade in other fields, for when the discussion took that turn; she was, simply, too ambitious to let down anybody in Moscow, but herself above all else.
"I'm looking to get hold of 3 Kirov class cruisers. Ther carry the compliment of armaments that would suit the needs of the naval defence force. Anything less and we may end up building them ourselves." Tiamat was begining to regret not offering this contract to the shipwrights of the Mikawa Institute. They had been doing good work in the naval build field for well over 250 years. However, modern diplomacy required modern thinking. "I do appreciate that it is not usual to give whole cruisers to another country. Personally I prefer not to think of the details. I deal in high level ordering. The main question here is - Can you deliver?"
"With regards to the universal gun size. We wish all rapid fire gun mounts to be able to support the same size shell. 30mm." Incindus was begining to respect the man sat next to him. He berrated himself for underestimating him. He then went back to listening to the negotiations.
Ulyanova blinked as Petlyakov violently suppressed a chuckle. They wanted three Kirov class cruisers? Fairly logical choice for the Dim Quaians - the Kirov was not just a cruiser, it was a heavy guided missile battle cruiser of all regards, the best of its kind in the world and nothing short of a mobile missile platform capable of engaging anything in a wide radius. It formed the heavy escort wing of the Soviet Navy, with 10 in service and several to be commissioned; and although the production of some components of the initial design had long stopped, the juggernaut of the Soviet Fleet had been heavily upgraded.
"I am afraid we cannot negotiate the passage of something as sensitive as the Type 1144 cruiser" spoke Ulyanova, glaring towards the rude Sovoboronexport representative. "The Type 1144 has no precedent of being exported, due to... significantly sensitive weapon systems. Although you can negotiate the customisation of a Type 1144E variant especially built for your country, this will have to be in the form of a contract offer that will be validated by the national Security Council and the Supreme Soviet" she explained. There was always the alternative, of course: the Type 1164 Atlant class, lighter sister version of the 1144 and less sensitive.
"As for the Type 14310 'Mirazh' the AK-360 mounts shall be standarised as you desire, though you will have to purchase munitions from our country" added Petlyakov. He still could not get the Kirov out of his mind. Were they nuts? That was... well, it had no precedent, and as a specialist, he knew how little were their chances to 'smuggle' high class Soviet technology outside the country's borders. Though the Atlant class was in his mind as well.
Tiamat new when he was asking to much. He had just done that. Although not the most modern piece of equipment, the Kirov was still very much in use. He made a mental note to request the raw materials for the construction of Dim Quai built blue water cruisers.
"That is a shame. They would have been proud additions to the DQNDF. We will pass on the aquisition of further marine hardware. Moving on to land based defence systems, we are looking to buy some SAM batteries to protect some of our larger cities; Istar, Buu Sindo, Shoto Kun and Mewasa. We appreciate that, having some of the finest technology in this area, you would have to reduce some of the characteristics of any hardware you provide. What could you offer in this area?"
Incindus made a note. The Mikawa Institute would soon be receiving orders for four Luhai 167's. Where the vessels came from was not a concern for Incindus, just that they were required.
"With regards to ammunition, we will be looking to buy a license to produce our own. I forsee turbulant times ahead for our region and cannot rely on the safe passage of goods through the busy North Atlantic shipping lanes, nor guarantee the safety of air freight through foreign airspace."
"We apologise for being unable of being more helpful concerning the Kirov class; however, the Type 1164 cruisers, a more mass-production alternative to the Type 1144 class, would be easier to export to your country" intervened Petlyakov, voicing the thought of his minister.
"You might know it as the Slava class, or Project Atlant; a blue-water cruiser well-suited for strike operations with anti-submarine warfare and air defence equipment as well. It falls midway between the Type 1144 battle-cruiser and the Type 956 destroyer in terms of capability, operations, as well as intended role. A cheaper and easier to mass-produce alternative to the Kirov in other words."
It was a shame Dim Quai had not attempted to customise a 'Type 1144E' variant for the Kirov, trying to incorporate systems already in use with the DQNDF as well as with 'non-sensitive' Kirov material. Ulyanova knew it, but the proposal was already on the table; pointing it out again was not her style of trading. Her thoughts were interrupted, once again, by Petlyakov.
"And, before we switch subject, how many Mirazh class patrol boats would you wish to purchase? Concerning munitions, I am certain that a jointly owned industry in Dim Quai producing the 30mm ammo under license could be negotiated with Comrade Minister."
It appeared that the next subject to be discussed would be air defences. Ulyanova smiled, not allowing Petlyakov to open his mouth; she loved intervening on his behalf and annoy him once in a while as well. "We would offer you a wide variety of choices, in fact, but taking into account your aims for a modern and highly effective military, we can offer you nothing short of the famous S-300PMU2" she said proudly.
The sound of that SAM's name was typically enough to frighten most pilots in the world; the few who would not be frightened would probably be aboard stealth or electronic warfare planes, and most of them would incorrectly be confident in the first place. "I believe you are familiar with this surface-to-air missile system? It can be interestingly be paired with the Tor-M1 close-range air defence missile system for even greater results."
An inability to absorb information was not something Tiamat was in possession of. His pager had gone off informing him of the recent change in the department for defence. Garric Lorraine was a fair man, but he had his 'requirements' which had to be met. These talks would have to end on a productive note.
Again, the Meritocracy thanks the honourable Comrade for the offer of the cruisers. In the unavailability on the open market for our preferred choice, we will look to internally supply our needs for these vessels. We are looking to purchase five Mirage vessels. With regards to the 'company' making the ammunition, it would have to be a 50-50 arrangement. Obviously you would like to retain control of an external company.
Looking at the short and long range SAM systems that you have tabled, the combination of the two seems to offer the most effective form of defence for our airspace. We would like to purchase fifty five units of each. We would then need to discuss the training of our personnel in the use of such equipment and the manufacturing of replacement 'parts'.
I understand that missile technology is of a somewhat sensitive nature. We would be happy to come to some defence policy 'arrangements' in regards to agreement for the training for the air defence systems.
Incindus was keen to get foreign policy more closely aligned with that of the Soviets. In fact, more recently it seems, Incindus wanted to get into the 'meat' of policy making in Dim Quai. He had his eye on the top job, and Alexei knew it too. This would help him achieve it. Closer ties with the Soviet union would undoubtedly boost trade, increase national security and hopefully, calm things down a bit in the region. Not to mention give Garric a new 'play friend'.
"With all due respect, I'd recommend a more strategic organisation f your missiles order" said Ulyanova. "A single S-300 unit consists of three or four launch vehicles, two radar vehicles, a command vehicle and two to four reloading vehicles. A single S-300 unit can be, of course, easily paired with a battery of Tor-M1 close air-defence systems, although a more favourable ratio of one S-300 to two Tor-M1 batteries can be achieved for your defence needs. Perhaps, a Buk-1M battery being considered in addition to pair with each S-300 unit, can pair your air defence with medium SAM capability as well" she explained.
"Concerning your Mirazh class order" spoke the other representative, as he noted something down, "consider it marked. I find no true objection in your limitations for the company either, and since Comrade Minister did not I can feel assured that we can consider this agreed upon; but we still strongly recommend the Type 1164. After all, the Slava class can supplement even a domestically-manufactured and domestically-designed supplement to the Type 1144 'Kirov.' Of course, we are also willing to discuss the possibility of customising a vessel based on the Type 1144 for exclusive use by the Dim Quaian defence forces."