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This article contains information from The Russian, and is of ambiguous continuity within the Battlefield universe and its storyline.
Battlefield 3: The Russian is a novel written by former SAS operator Andy McNab and screenwriter Peter Grimsdale. The novel takes place during and after the events of Battlefield 3, following Dimitri Mayakovsky and Henry Blackburn as they attempt to unravel and stop a global nuclear plot. It was released on October 25, 2011.
While the novel expands greatly on characters and plot points from Battlefield 3, notably focusing much more on Mayakovsky's actions during the story as opposed to Blackburn's, it differs drastically from the game in its ending. As a result, much of the information presented in the novel is either non-canon or ambiguously canon in the main Battlefield timeline.
Spetsnaz has been a name to strike fear into the hearts of Mother Russia's enemies. But what was there left to fight for now the country had gone to the dogs? Dima Mayakovsky - once a revered figure inside the elite Special Forces unit - wanted no part of it any more.
But when a dangerous fugitive surfaces in Tehran, Dima is the man the Kremlin wants to bring in. The target has something Dima's political masters want back. And they have made sure that they do not have to take no for an answer.
There is no option: the ex-Spetsnaz legend must lead his hand-picked team of highly-trained, battle-hardened operatives into explosive combat. But that wasn't the sort of thing you could hide from the US recon satellites that circled the skies above.
That meant Dima and his men became Marine Sergeant Henry "Black" Blackburn's problem. Sent across the border into Iran to search for a missing patrol, Black's men weren't looking for trouble, but they found it. In spades.
And as Iran descends into chaos, Dima and Black are forced to question everything they believe in, and to fight to survive for their comrades, their honor, and the lives of millions.
They're on their own. And the clocks are ticking...
Operation in BeirutEdit
The prologue begins in Beirut, Lebanon in August 1991 during a meeting of the Iranian nuclear delegation. GRU agent Dimitri "Dima" Mayakovsky and his protégée Solomon have been sent to the country to secure or kill a defecting Iranian nuclear scientist named Khalaji, a specialist in portable nuclear weaponry, by posing as CIA agents taking him to the US. While Dima is uneasy about the mission due to weak intel from their handler Paliov, Solomon is completely calm and relishing his first GRU mission, particularly looking forward to seeing how Khalaji reacts when he realizes he’s not going to America.
The agents are to meet Khalaji at a bombed-out parking lot a few blocks from his hotel. Waiting at a bar opposite, Dima has several shots of vodka while Solomon silently waits. Finally, Khalaji arrives, but with his entire immediate family, ruining the plan to quickly extract Khalaji to a Russian jet. Solomon insists that they’ll have to sedate Khalaji and kill his family to salvage to operation as they approach the car. Dima almost blows their cover by using the wrong cover name when speaking with Khalaji, but Solomon quickly intervenes and attempts to coax the family out of their vehicle.
At that moment two CIA SUVs then appear, eight agents exiting the vehicles and aiming at Dima. As Solomon had hidden among the other vehicles in the parking lot when the agents arrived, Dima attempts to engage the Americans but misses and is shot in the hand and downed. Some of the agents quickly take Khalaji and his family from their car and usher them into their vehicles, while others move to finish off Dima. Solomon then reappears and kills several of the agents, including one about to kill Dima, forcing the remaining agents to drive away. Solomon then helps Dima to his feet, informing him that Khalaji was taken by the Americans; shooting the man attacking Dima caused him to miss his shot at the Iranian. Dima thanks Solomon for saving his life, to which Solomon only replies that he had made a mistake.
The story continues in the year 2014, with Dima, no longer with the GRU and working as a mercenary, heading out with Kroll to exchange five million USD for the daughter of millionaire Bulganov, Katya, from Chechen kidnappers. While he supplies real money to make the exchange look authentic, Bulganov is adamant that Dima kills the terrorists, wanting to send a message to the underworld about messing with him. Dima drives Kroll’s battered BMW, which Kroll currently lives out of after being kicked out by his wife again, to the trade site: a rundown flat in lower Moscow. Dima tells Kroll to wait twenty minutes for him and enters the flat with the money, alone and unarmed.
Arriving at the apartment, Dima is brought in at gunpoint by two of the terrorists. They search Dima but are told to stop by the leader of the operation, Vatsanyev, an old Spetsnaz comrade of Dima’s. Vatsanyev warmly greets Dima, and the two momentarily reminisce about the old days in service to the Soviet Union. They then return to the present and Vatsanyev brings out Katya. After convincing Vatsanyev to have his goons count the money, Dima pretends to trip over the table in center of the room and grabs the pistol one of the terrorists left on the floor. He quickly dispatches the two, and shoots Vatsanyev in the shoulder as he was reaching for a machine pistol on table.
Katya is no longer where Vatsanyev had left her, leading Dima to believe she had attempted to hide in the other room of the apartment. Suddenly, Vatsenyev’s sixteen-year-old daughter Nisha emerges from the room holding a knife to Katya’s throat. Hesitating for a second, Dima shoots and kills Nisha. Firing a last burst of gunfire into the room for good measure, Dima moves and picks up Katya.
An internal security SWAT team then breaks into the room, weapons trained on Dima. He points them to Vatsanyev lying on the floor, and they then tell Dima that he must come with them to see GRU Director Paliov. Kroll enters and stands at the doorway, apologizing that he couldn’t warn Dima and asks if he wants him to take the money and Katya back to Bulganov. At the mention of the two, the SWAT officers begin eyeing the case of money and Katya, and Dima knocks two of them out before they attempt to take either of them. Vatsanyev pleads with Dima to not let the police take him, and, after a moment, Dima nods and shoots him in the head.
Employment by the GRUEdit
After a short scuffle with the SWAT team and delivering Katya and the money back to Bulganov, Dima considers ignoring Paliov’s request, but out of curiosity he takes the GAZ the SWAT team came in to “The Aquarium”, the GRU headquarters in Moscow. Waved through security due to the truck, Dima enters and visits Paliov. Paliov berates Dima for attacking the SWAT officers and for killing Vatsanyev, saying he could’ve been a useful source, while Dima counters that he was cleaning Paliov’s agency of corrupt elements and they wouldn’t have been able to get anything out of the Vatsanyev even if they’d tortured him.
Secretary of Defense and Security Timofayev then enters, and excitedly welcomes Dima, while Paliov appears exasperated at his superior’s entrance. Timofayev tells Paliov to impress him with Dima’s “credentials”, and Paliov reviews some of Dima’s actions as a Spetsnaz operative. Paliov also states how Dima was awarded both the Order of Nevsky and the Order of Saint Andrew, at which Timofayev muses that Dima was discharged because he was ‘’too’’ good.
Timofayev attempts to convince Dima to return to the GRU for one last mission, insisting they need an operative with his experience and patriotism. Dima gives in to none of his offers, telling him that he has entire army of able soldiers to choose from and promptly leaves the office. Paliov then tells Timofayev that Dima will not be swayed by anything they do, but Timofayev insists that no one is immune and that there must be something that could convince him. He orders Paliov to find it immediately.
Later, Dima returns to his home with Kroll, who had passed out over lunch. Momentarily watching news of the PLR gaining power in Iran, Dima addresses a hiding Paliov to show himself. Paliov comes out and hostlers his pistol, stating that Dima’s apartment is rather modest for his reputation. Dima questions him as to what could be important enough to break into his home, prompting Paliov to ask Dima what he knows of arms dealer Amir Kaffarov. Kaffarov has been taken hostage by the PLR in Iran after a falling out over an arms deal, and the Kremlin wants him back to save face due to his past connections with the Russian military.
Having been on the wrong end of Kaffarov’s “merchandise” too many times, Dima refuses and insists Al-Bashir would be doing the world a favor killing Kaffarov. Paliov also mentions that Solomon has been sighted in Iran, aggravating Dima even more. Paliov then produces an envelope and suggests that Dima look at its contents. Relenting, Dima discovers photos of a man in his twenties in Paris, France. Paliov states that if Dima takes the mission, the GRU will give him the address of the man in the photos. Dima agrees.
Meanwhile, in Al-Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, Staff Sergeant Henry "Black" Blackburn and his unit Misfit 1-3 are patrolling near the Iranian border when he is contacted by Lieutenant Quinton Cole, Misfit Actual. Cole has lost contact with a squad near Spinza Meat Market, and wants 1-3 to find them. En-route, Montes again questions why they're in Iraq trying to start a war with Iran. Chaffin angirly replies that they're fighting the PLR, not Iran, and Montes should "stop being a fucking hippie". Black defuses the argument and the marines disembark at the meat market.
Black notices that the market was highly active a week ago but is now abandoned. Campo points out a newly painted mural of Al-Bashir, suggesting recent PLR activity. Following the trail of the missing squad, 1-3 avoids a hostile APC and discover a plaza where a group of civilians are cowering. Suddenly, a sniper fires from a nearby rooftop, wounding Chaffin. Campo throws a Smoke Grenade while Black and Montes pull Chaffin to safety. Matkovic fires on the sniper through the smoke, killing him.
After it clears, 1-3 find the wreckage of the missing squad's Stryker and the bodies of dead and injured marines, the smoking remains of a VBED nearby. Matkovic calls for CASEVAC and begins to head into the Stryker when Black stops him, noticing a vehicle with detonation wires leading to a nearby building. The squad waits as Black goes around to the rear entrance of the building.
Heading inside, Black finds two dead civilians on the stairs and discovers the ends of the wires leading to a car battery on the second floor. He is then struck from behind; as he falls, he pulls out his knife and stabs his assailant in the thigh before they can reach the battery, piercing a femoral artery. His attacker turns out to be a young girl, who falls and begins bleeding to death, cursing Blackburn in Arabic. Black attempts to help stop the girl's bleeding, but she shoves him back, saying that the PLR will destroy him as she dies. Shaken, Black cuts the wires to battery and gives the marines below an all clear. Suddenly, the ground around Black begins to shake and the building collapses, knocking the marine unconscious.
Eight hours later, Black comes to and realizes the area had been hit with an earthquake. Forced to abandon his Body Armor and weapons to escape the collapsed house, he is unable to find of his squad in the remains of the parking lot. However, he sees an injured Marine, Harker, hanging from a fissure in the road. He begins heading toward Harker to help, but hears a convoy of PLR APCs approaching. An unarmed Black is forced to hide and watches as Harker, not knowing the convoy is hostile, waves for help. The vehicles stop and a group of PLR soldiers disembark.
One of the men, his face hidden under a turban, begins speaking to Harker, though Black is too far to hear the conversation. The man then has one of the other soldiers produce a camcorder and record him as he beheads Harker with a knife and bites off his nose. The man's turban had fallen off in the process, and Black takes note of his features from afar. The convoy chants and fire their weapons in the air before departing.
Horrified, Black reaches the body and discovers the soldiers had stripped Harker of all of his gear, save for a few crumpled photos of Harker's life back home. He takes the photos and promises to find a way to avenge the Marine's death. The sergeant then begins working his way back to Misfit's initial staging area. After roaming for about an hour, he spots an Osprey flying overhead and hears a radio transmission from a crashed HMMWV that Misfit is preparing to evac nearby. Black rushes to the evac sight, which is taking heavy fire from PLR forces, and barely manages to make it aboard the Osprey as it leaves the area.
Back in Moscow, Dima has Kroll join him for his mission as needs someone who he knows he can trust. The two are given a command room at the Aquarium and provided intel regarding the compound Kaffarov is being held at in Tabriz. Dima also meets Omorova, a GRU field agent currently working out of the Aquarium to care for her family in Moscow, and quickly befriends her. However, Dima is increasingly suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the mission, as Paliov is providing significant support and manpower for the mission, something out of character for him. As well, he still sees no reason for the GRU to be pouring so many resources into saving the criminal Kaffarov. He raises his suspicions with Omorova, who does not corroborate them but states that Dima should watch his back on the mission. Kroll asks Dima what exactly the Directorate did to make him accept the mission in the first place; Dima says they gave him hope
The two then travel to the Higher Airborne Command School in Ryazan, training grounds for the Spetsnaz, wanting to recruit some of the instructors there to create an advanced team to go with them on the mission. Dima selects two from the camp: Hassan Zirak, an Azerbaijani fluent in Farsi and Tajik, and Gregorian, a stealthful and meticulous operator. He provides them with the assignment of bringing him back the final member of the team, Vladimir Kamarivsky, who is currently being held Butyrka prison. The two are surprised to be going after the legendary Spetsnaz operative, but accept the mission and leave. Kroll is also rather startled by the choice of Vladimir and again prods Dima regarding the mission. Dima has a feeling it will be his last mission and says he wants his "favorite people" with him for it.
As the GRU begin setting up a staging area in Ryazan for the operation, Dima's suspicions of an ulterior motive for it are all but confirmed when a back up team of 50 VDV and a nuclear specialist GRU unit arrive, claiming they'll be going into the compound after Dima captures Kaffarov. Dima phones Paliov and tells him to speak with him in person or he'll leave the mission.
The director arrives alone at the camp a short time later and goes with Dima to his post. Dima questions him about the new units, eventually having Paliov confess that Kaffarov had come into possession of three nuclear devices. The weapons are man portable and the size of a suitcase, classified to the highest level and causing significant concern within the GRU. If Al-Bashir were to acquire the weapons, PLR-controlled Iran would achieve nuclear capability and Russia would appear to have supplied the rogue state with the weapons. Outraged, Dima demands the information regarding the man in Paris before he goes any further. Paliov states that he would give it to Dima if it was his choice, but only Timofayev has that information and won't release it until the job is done. The director promises all the help he can provide in the meanwhile, but tells Dima that if the mission were to fail he would be better off not coming back.
Notable differences between the game and novelEdit
The Russian primarily follows the main plot of Battlefield 3 while providing extra background to Dima's activities, but it differs in continuity in several parts of the story.
- The roles of the protagonists are reversed: Dima is followed as the protagonist of the story while Blackburn acts as the novel's deuteragonist.
- Kiril is replaced by the character Kroll.
- In the novel Dima, Kroll, and Vladimir are brought out of "retirement" for the mission to find Kaffarov. In-game, Dima is mentioned as being a former member of the Spetsnaz Vympel unit now working under the Spetsnaz GRU, while no background information is given for Vladimir or Kirill.
- Dima's squad includes two other Spetsnaz operators in the novel, Hassan Zirak and Gregorian.
- Jennifer Hawkins does not appear and is never mentioned in the novel.
- Jonathan Miller is only briefly mentioned in the novel, when Blackburn and Cole watch his execution video. Anvil's actions during Thunder Run and Fear No Evil are not mentioned.
- Black actively commands Misfit 1-3 in the novel, as opposed to Campo in the game.
- Quinton Cole is referred to as a Lieutenant instead of as a Captain.
- The missing patrol and their vehicle are found in the parking lot where the sniper is encountered.
- Chaffin is not as severely wounded by the sniper, and is present for remainder of the book.
- Matkovic kills the sniper from the parking lot.
- The IED is manned by a young girl in the upper floor of a building, as opposed to the PLR soldier in the basement in-game.
- The PLR do not engage Misfit following the disarmament of the IED, and the earthquake hits while Black is still inside of the building.
- Blackburn does not engage any PLR after awakening from the quake, and in fact loses most of his gear in the process of escaping the collapsed building.
- Blackburn's sighting of Solomon and the injured American Marine takes place after he pulls himself from the rubble, and is significantly longer and more detailed. Solomon is accompanied by a group of PLR soldiers with APCs, and is initially disguised in a shalwar kameez and turban, but his face is revealed when the turban falls off. Solomon beheads the Marine while the soldiers record the act, strip the body of its gear and then move on.
- Blackburn does not meet Montes after the quake, and instead follows the sight and sound of the Osprey to the evac point.
- Similar to Cole, Joseph Brady is referred to as a Lieutenant instead of a Captain.
- The engagement with the VDV within the valley does not occur in the novel. Misfit is instead inserted directly to Kaffarov's villa via Osprey shortly after Dima's squad arrives.
- Dima's squad does not HALO jump into the valley as depicted in-game. Posing as security for Amara Gazul, the squad is waved through in a security SUV taken from Tehran.
- Dima is the only member of the Spetsnaz team to enter the villa, and only engages Kaffarov's heads of security Ying and Yang.
- Kaffarov dies of a heart attack while holding Dima at gunpoint.
- In the game, when Blackburn enters the pool room of Kaffarov's villa, no exchange is given between Cole, Blackburn, or Dima before Blackburn kills Cole. In the novel, Blackburn finds Dima, and interrogates him. When Cole arrives, Cole attempts to goad Blackburn into killing Dima before attempting to himself. However, he is still shot by Blackburn.
- Vladimir is not killed in action during the events in Paris.
- Dima stops the nuke from exploding inside Paris in the novel.
- Blackburn is the only member of Misfit detained for questioning.
- Whistler is stated to be a Homeland Security agent, and is only joined by the CIA agent Gordon after Blackburn demands to know if the CIA has an operative named Solomon.
- Blackburn is taken to a room for waterboarding following his interrogation (somewhat ironically, Whistler states that the CIA doesn't torture anymore in the game.) Blackburn manages to escape, incapacitating Gordon and convincing Whistler to take him to Times Square to search for Solomon.
- The book leaves Blackburn chasing Solomon into the New York metro; the ensuing train shootout and street chase depicted in game are not mentioned, but the final chapter of the book states that Blackburn still killed Solomon and stopped the nuclear attack.
- "Soldier" and "Army" are frequently used when referring to Blackburn and his branch, despite being a member of the United States Marine Corps.
- Misfit and other Marine units are stated to be using IAV Stryker IFVs, as opposed to the LAV-25 used by the Marine Corps in reality and in-game.