The Third World War, also called the Great Asian War, the Great War (in India), and the Great Bolivarian War (in South America) was a global conflict originating in South Asia fought from 12 April 2030 until the unconditional surrender of Venezuela on 19 December 2038. This war was the first to see over a billion deaths on all parties. All in all, 929.7 million troops were mobilised, and of those, 209.7 million were killed, and 307.6 million additional casualties resulted, adding to a total of 507.3 million military casualties. The majority of the 1.29 billion deaths were civilians, mainly from the densely populated areas in Asia.
A skirmish between Indian and Pakistani troops on 12 April 2030 is commonly cited as the start of this war. The skirmish quickly escalated into the Battle of Wagah, which saw a marginal Indian victory. Fearing Pakistan will be overran, Iran and China simultaneously declared war on India on 14 April 2030, and Pakistan formally declared war on 17 April 2030. Vietnam and the Philippines declared war on China the same day. The Chinese and Iranian entry into the war obliged Russia to declare war despite taking no military action in the region. The United States declares war on the coalition on 19 April 2030, but takes no action in India until almost two years after the war began. The South American Theatre began with the Venezuelan Invasion of Colombia on 19 April 2030. This is commonly cited as why the United States did not participate in India until 2032. Venezuelans also attack Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. The last action prompted a declaration of war by NATO.
This war, like the two previous global wars, was marked by extreme destruction and loss of life, and, despite many predictions of nuclear war, was conventional war. All of the world's Great Powers were eventually divided between the Eastern Powers, led by China, Russia, and Iran, and the Allied Powers, led by India, the United States, and Brazil. The war was primarily fought in South Asia and adjoining areas of Indochina, with the only other significant theatres of combat in South America and the Middle East and limited actions in Eastern Europe, Korea, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite every nation in the world being part of either faction, most countries avoided combat (only active belligerents are listed).
The joint Iranian-Pakistani forces pushed deep into India, reaching the outskirts of Delhi by 25 June 2030. They were joined by the Turks in July 2030. The Chinese-Bangladeshi-Burmese coalition pushed in from the East, taking up to Bhubaneswar by 29 June 2030. This two-front war defined the course of the war for India. After the First Battle of New Delhi on the Eastern Front and the Battle of Ranchi on the Western Front, the two sides were settled into a stalemate. The Indians and Filipinos dug in on both fronts, leading to a reintroduction of trench warfare tactics on both sides. Significant sea battles in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Tonkin would lead to clashes between the navies of several Great Powers, becoming the largest ocean theatres of war in history.
The South American Theatre saw the largest guerilla warfare campaign in history. The harsh rainforest terrain of the Amazon allowed Venezuelan, Bolivian, Peruvian, and Ecuadorian troops to hold off much more numerous Brazillian, Argentine, Chilean, and American troops on all sides. Despite an American blockade on Venezuela, the occupied Colombian lands created a corridor that allowed access to the Pacific, allowing the Chinese and Russians to supply Venezuela and protect the shipping from the US Pacific Fleet. All countries in Central America except for neutral Belize and Allied Costa Rica and Panama joined on the side of the Venezuelans, themselves allied with the Eastern Powers in a faction known as the Bolivarian Coalition.
The entry of Saudi Arabia in July 2035 was the turning point of the war in Asia. Saudi troops invaded Iraq, quickly disrupting the Western Front by way of a two-front war against Iran. Turkish and Iranian troops engaged in guerilla tactics against the Allied invasion, leading to a significant and protracted front in Iraq. Indonesia would also join the war at this point, leading to a massive uptick in troops on the Eastern Front. The war in South America turned in September 2035 after the Brazilian victory in the Battle of Cucui. After this, the Venezuelans were quickly pushed out of Brazil. The Invasion of Montería and the ensuing Liberation of Colombia by Mexican-American forces coming in from Panama split the forces between Peru and Ecuador to the southwest and Venezuela to the northeast.
Three final offensives dictated the end of the war. The Allied Invasion of Iran and Pakistan between January 2036 and May 2037 led to the collapse of the Western Front. After this, India quickly diverted troops to the East. A decisive US-Indian naval victory in the Battle of Laccadive Sea saw the destruction of the Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet. The June 2037 Fifty Days' Offensive led to the collapse of Chinese forces on the Eastern Front. Despite this, China managed to hold out for an additional thirty days afterward, leading to a conditional surrender on 5 September 2037. A separate peace with Russia was negotiated on 5 October 2037 in the Treaty of Moscow. Peru and Bolivia were quickly overrun by Allied troops; both nations surrender on 13 June 2037. The Venezuelan Army held out for almost a year after the conclusion of the war in Asia, finally surrendering unconditionally on 19 December 2038. The final proceedings of the war were enumerated at the Hanoi Peace Conference with the Treaty of Hanoi.
The Third World War was a devastating yet ultimately indecisive conflict. Despite all the destruction and death, major geopolitical changes did not happen. The United States and China remained the world's global superpowers. The main effect of the war was the destruction of India and Bangladesh. Each nation lost around three out of every ten people, causing major instability and the fall of India as a Great Power. Venezuela lost its eastern territories to Suriname, Guyana, and Brazil and most of its west to Colombia. Bolivia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of Myanmar were each annexed by a neighbouring nation. Iran lost its western provinces to India. China lost Hainan Island to Vietnam. Despite all the gains made by India, the catastrophic demographic losses nearly caused the state to collapse.
In 2025, the People's Republic of China launched an invasion of the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan. The invasion lasted a mere twelve hours with only 200 non-lethal casualties on either side. Taiwan's lack of resistance was caused by Chinese economic pressures, causing falling GDP growth and a reduced military budget. The United States promised to protect Taiwan, but, due to its own financial difficulties caused by a recent recession, it could not back it. The Republic of China relocated first to Tokyo and then to Honolulu, Hawaii, where it would remain until the end of the war.
China began a policy of worldwide influence in 2013. Under President Xi Jinping, China launched the ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, connecting countries with large infrastructure projects and loans. The loans became especially problematic when China began debt-trapping nations like Bangladesh and Angola, allowing them to negotiate deals like long-term port leases. In particular, Payra, Sri Lanka, and Chittagong, Bangladesh, were Indian Ocean ports leased to China. These ports contained China's People Liberation Army Garrisons and eventually became the bases for the Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet. Chinese influence also included large swaths of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, creating negative or vassal relations with each of these nations.
India and Pakistan had a mutual standoff since February 2019, when a car bomb exploded that killed forty Indian security officers. Jaish-e-Mohammad, an Islamic militant group, claimed responsibility for these attacks. However, India blames Pakistan, saying the government uses rebel groups to indirectly attack India, something denied by Pakistan. Mutual rounds of airstrikes and small firefights persisted for eleven years until the beginning of the war.
Syrian Civil War
In 2011, the Syrian Civil War commenced. After fifteen years of war, a peace agreement was signed in 2026. In this, a pro-NATO government was created in Syria, with certain portions of Syria and Iraq partitioned to be the independent nation of Kurdistan. This caused tense relations between Turkey, a nation struggling with its Kurdish minority, and the rest of NATO, leading to their withdrawal in 2027.
Venezuelan Civil War
Years of political turmoil led to the Venezuelan Civil War. The Government fought both anti-government rebels and a fascist group called the Sons of Bolivar. ￼Eventually, after three years of conflict, the Sons of Bolivar won, declaring the Bolivarian Socialist Republic of Venezuela in 2022. This new republic quickly gained the recognition of Russia and China, while most of the world reluctantly accepted the new nation. Negotiating deals with these countries, Venezuela rapidly militarised, boasting the largest military in South America, challenging Brazil and Argentina. The militarisation also led to a revitalisation of the economy. Venezuela briefly became the second wealthiest nation in the Americas, only behind the United States and surpassing Canada.
A tangled web of alliances began forming since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Years of interactions led to many unofficial alliances before a series of secret agreements formalised global alignments. NATO remained even after the conclusion of the Cold War and absorbed many former Warsaw Pact nations, like Poland and Ukraine. The Treaty of Shanghai of 2025 formalised a military alliance between China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Venezuela. The Treaty of Calcutta formalised a military alliance between India and Vietnam. Vietnam later invited the Philippines and Indonesia to the alliance. Cambodia, Laos, and former Soviet states were observers to the Shanghai Pact. Venezuela later founded the Bolivarian Coalition with the Treaty of Caracas, consisting of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The nations that signed the Treaty of Shanghai later became known as the Eastern Powers, owing to the relative geographic location of the founding members. The Bolivarian Coalition became a cadet branch of the Shanghai Pact.
Battle of Wagah
On 10 April 2030, an airstrike occured near Wagah, Pakistan. Due to bad weather, communication by radio was disrupted, and neither the Indians nor Pakistani could confirm which side launched the strike. Troops of the Indian 22nd Division gathered near the border. After an attempt to communicate with the Pakistani commander failed, the troops were ordered to stand their ground.
The two days later, on 12 April, the Pakistani High Command gave the order to attack the 22nd Division. At 13:42, the attack commenced. The 22nd Division experienced much confusion before being ordered to advance. At 14:07, the Indian High Command ordered the Indian Western Command to advance and capture Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province, Pakistan. Indian and Pakistani troops met at the border village of Wagah, which saw a major battle. After sixteen hours of uninterrupted fighting, the Pakistani retreated and Wagah was secured.
Progress of the War
Two Fronts in India
On 14 April, China, Iran, and Russia simultaneously declare war on India, as per terms of the Treaty. Turkey and Venezuela are exempted from declarations of war due to geographic constraints. The same day, Iranian troops mobilise and are sent to aid the Pakistani troops guarding Lahore. Myanmar and Bangladesh declare war on India on 15 April. Chinese troops already active in Bangladesh join with the Bangladeshi Army as the main wave of Chinese mobilisation slowly advances through Myanmar. The Indian Eastern Command opt to withdraw from West Bengal, evacuate the citizens, and attempt a preemptive strike on Bangladesh to widen the Siliguri Corridor. However, the plan failed, with Bangladeshi troops aided by Chinese to the north quickly cutting the corridor. The Indians managed to escape through a gap in the Bangladeshi lines and join the general retreat. The Battle of Lahore commences on the same day, with a joint Pakistani-Iranian attack pushing the Indian troops across the Indus River. By the end of the day, Indian troops were in retreat on both fronts.
On 16 April, the Pakistani-Iranian troops pushed into India, advancing towards Amritsar and threatening to swing southwards towards the Indian capitol of Delhi. Elements of the Indian South Western Command advance in the southern section of the border, attempting to capture Hyderabad. The Pakistani troops were initially pushed back, but several divisions of Pakistani reinforcements and a few more Iranian ones turned the tide and pushed the Indians 100km back. In the East, Chinese troops reach the main lines after bypassing West Bengal. The Chinese troops begin a massive assault on the Indian defences. The Chinese were within range of Kolkata when a massive diversion of troops from the Indian Southern and Central Commands arrived, creating a major defensive line around the city.
Pakistan officially declares war on India on 17 April 2030. Simultaneously, Vietnam and the Philippines declares war on China. Laos and Cambodia declare war on Vietnam later the same day. Filipino troops are taken to India by way of Malaysia, and significant numbers also go to Vietnam.
War Breaks out in South America
On 19 April 2030, Venezuela invades Colombia without any formal declaration of war. In the span of two days, Colombia falls to the invasion. The United States declares war on Venezuela, and by extension declares war on all Shanghai Pact nations. Its involvement in Asia does not occur until 2032.
Venezuela links up with its allies Peru and Ecuador before launching three simultaneous invasions on 22 April. A division of troops attacks Panama to seize the Canal. Guatemalan, Honduran, and Nicaraguan troops quickly overrun Costa Rica and invade Panama from the west. The US Atlantic and Pacific fleets quickly move to surround the Panama Canal. However, the Bolivarian Coalition Navies and captured Colombian ships quickly occupy strategic locations up and down the coasts. The resulting Battle of Panama deals significant damage to both US fleets. An aircraft carrier airstrike campaign tries to disarm coastal defences, but due to their excellent positioning and relative sparseness, few were damaged. The US fleets were forced to withdraw by 28 April. A second attack was directed at Chile to aid Bolivia. Bolivia captures the Atacama and settles down into defensive positions. The third and main spearhead was directed towards Brazil and the Guianas. In three days, Venezuela captures Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, and Caribbean Brazil. The invasion of French Guiana prompts a declaration of war by NATO. The Venezuelans swing southwards to capture Brazil's Atlantic coast.
Argentina and Uruguay declare war on Venezuela on 24 April. They quickly send troops north to aid the Brazilians. Venezuelan troops attempt to capture the Amazon estuary to gain water access to the interior of Brazil, allowing them to bypass the rainforest on their way to the south. They were intercepted near Macapas, where a large Brazilian force and the Navy stationed themselves on the opposing bank. The ensuing battle would last ninety-five days.
On 1 May, North Korea launches a surprise invasion of South Korea, aided by Chinese troops. This prompts Japan to declare war on North Korea and China on the same day. American troops already stationed in these nations are mobilised. The Allied counterattack quickly overrun the poorly equipped North Koreans, who were pushed across the Amur into Russia and China by 7 May. Eastern Powers troops dug in, leading the Allied force to end any further advances on the front. The front remained actively staffed despite no further military actions.
On 2 May, minor clashes occurred between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the countries of the East African Community. No casualties resulted. The two sides each extended invitations to their respective factions, but despite both sides accepting, only minimal offensives would be conducted in Africa for the remainder of the war.
The Eastern Front
Chinese Offensive in Bengal
By 2 May, the Indians had been pushed back several hundred kilometres into their own territory. The Chinese occupied Assam and continued their advance into India proper. The Battle of Kolkata began on 7 May, where Chinese and Burmese troops relieve Bangladeshi positions along the border. In the next four days, Chinese troops encircled the Indians on the banks of the Hooghly River, taking 30,000 troops captive. Kolkata fell on 12 May. The main part of the Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet departed from Payra, Sri Lanka, the following day, reaching Kolkata by the 17th. The Indian armies retreated to more defendable positions along the right bank Subarnarehka River and the city of Kharagpur. The motorised Chinese divisions began a rapid advance after Kolkata, bolstered by captured high-speed rails in the east. Chinese infantry and light artillery reached Kharagpur quickly and surrounded the city. The Indian High Command ordered a general evacuation and scorched-earth policy, destroying most remaining sections of high-speed rail on the left bank of the Subarnarehka, completing on the 21st. Simultaneously, a large force captured Patna in the north, capturing many vital Indian roads. The Indian Central Command joined the general retreat southwest.
Battle of Ranchi
Chinese troops made quick use of high-speed rail in India, aided by the fact that these were imported from China and are therefore the same gauge. Despite the scorched-earth order, Chinese engineers rapidly replaced destroyed sections of rail and had faster locomotives, allowing them to advance faster than the retreating Indians. Eventually. the Eastern troops reached the city of Ranchi, the largest rail hub in Bengal. Indian troops from the south deployed here, desperately trying to protect it from superior Chinese rail power. Filipino troops began arriving in larger numbers, and large elements of the Philippines Navy also arrived, creating a larger challenge to the Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet. The Battle of Ranchi began on 29 May. This battle would last until 25 August. The battle quickly devolved into door-to-door urban combat. Several weeks of fighting later, the Chinese only controlled the eastern outskirts of the city, still not within a distance of the vital Ranchi-Delhi High-Speed Rail. Indian and Chinese troops shipped in larger numbers, numbering 1.2 million and 2.3 million, respectively, on the active front. An additional 800,000 Filipino troops fought with the Indians. By July 2030, the Indian troops were ordered to dig in from the Nepalese border all the way south to the Indian Ocean. Chinese and Bangladeshi troops did the same, creating the first instance of trench warfare since 1918. The battle was ultimately a marginal Chinese victory but failed to seize any vital rail lines.
Battle of Thai Nguyen
Vietnam declared war on China on 17 April, but the first attack on did not occur until 2 June. Vietnam quickly launched a preemptive strike against Cambodia and Laos, two critical Chinese allies, and quickly overran both countries. Cambodian and Laotian troops retreated into Myanmar, where significant numbers of Chinese troops were already stationed, and neutral Thailand. Armed with Chinese supplies, the Cambodian-Laotian troops counterattacked. The harsh jungle terrain prevented any large campaigns, and both sides engaged in guerilla tactics in this sector of the front. On 7 June, the main Chinese spearhead came from the north, where 640,000 Chinese troops entered Vietnam. Both sides converged on the city of Thai Nguyen, on the outskirts of the Vietnamese capitol of Hanoi. The Vietnamese government evacuated south to Da Nang, in central Vietnam. Four divisions of Filipino troops arrived along with the bulk of the Vietnamese army in Thai Nyugen, numbering 930,000. The resulting battle saw the Chinese being pushed back to village of Tam Di. After a long retreat, another seven divisions of Chinese troops reached the main effort. Jungle guerrillas came to dominate this part of the Eastern Front.
The two sides dug into defensive positions after July 2030. Trench systems are particularly difficult in this area due to geography. This area of India receives heavy rainfall in the monsoon months and is notorious for floods. A particularly devastating flood in 2034 was responsible for the deaths of nine million Chinese and seventeen million Allied troops. Flooding, cholera, other tropical diseases, and heat stroke were responsible for the majority of civilian deaths in Bangladesh and India. American troops began arriving in India in April 2032. The American Expeditionary Force did little to change the tide of the war, with Chinese troops occupying the better ground and on the defensive. Despite a large offensive at Rourkela, no significant gains were made. Little would change between July 2030 and April 2034.
Vietnamese and Filipino troops fought Cambodian, Burmese, and Laotian troops in occupied Cambodia and Laos. This area of the front saw widespread guerilla tactics. Though not nearly as large as the concurrent battles in the South American Theatre, jungle warfare claimed the lives of 3.1 million Vietnamese and Filipinos, almost half of each nation's total war deaths. The home-field advantage of the defenders allowed Cambodia and Laos to suffer minimal casualties in this theatre of the war. Most Cambodian and Laotian troops aided in fighting on the main front in India.
The bloodiest and longest battle of the Third World War occurred on the Eastern Front. On 11 May 2034, Chinese troops attempted a large breakthrough near the town of Cuttack. 16.9 million Chinese, Bangladeshi, and Burmese troops overwhelmed this point on the trench system. After taking Cuttack but failing to break through, the Eastern troops dug in on the new positions and returned to defensive positions. The Allied troops counterattacked desperately, as Cuttack was an important port for the arrival of Filipino and American troops and supplies. The Indian military took 1.9 million casualties, 495,000 of them lethal, on just the first day of this battle. The Battle of Cuttack would last another seventeen months, resulting in 45.9 million deaths, 40.1 million of them Indian, for the Allies, compared to just 1.3 million between Chinese, Bangladeshi, and Burmese. The extreme lethality for the Indians especially was attributed to the intentional manipulation of the terrain with artillery bombardments. The wetness of the monsoon season caused massive mudslides that often collapsed the Indian trenches, killing troops before they can attack or reinforce any trenches. The Chinese occupied the drier ground and were able to reinforce their trenches with carbon nanotube embedded into the mud, allowing them to hold their positions. A large-scale counter-campaign of aerial bombings accompanied the main assault by the Allied troops, leading to widespread destruction of Indian cities behind the main lines as well.
In an attempt to divert the pressure at Cuttack, the Vietnamese launched an attack at the Chinese border. Throughout the war, this sector had been especially quiet due to the rugged terrain and relatively few key objectives. However, with this sector being mostly undefended and the war on the main front becoming desperate, the Vietnamese elected to attack. The Vietnamese reached as war as Chongzuo before being repelled. The Chinese pushed the Vietnamese to the town of Lang Son before digging in on this front as well. Vietnamese involvement at the main front reduced due to this failure.
The Western Front
First Battle of New Delhi
The Iranian-Pakistani troops fought the Indians alone in the west. These forces captured Bikaner on 1 May. Bolstered by Chinese rail locomotives, the Farsi Allies troops began their advance to New Delhi almost unopposed due to the majority of forces being concentrated in the east. By 11 May, The Farsi Allies infantry and artillery began to siege Delhi. The advancing armies razed villages and towns all along the front, causing widespread civilian fatalities across the occupied territories. The Farsi Allies eventually reached Bahadurgarh, at the border of Delhi. Here, with the Indian Western Command already positioned along the borders, the Indians launched a massive pre-emptive strike. Meanwhile, to secure its flanks, a primarily Iranian force pushed south, again leveraging Indian high-speed rail to quickly advance. The troops smashed through a gap in the Indian lines, threatening to cut off troops of the Indian South Western Command. The South Western Command withdrew from the exposed position to the city of Bhuj on the left bank of the Indus Delta. Here, troops of the Indian South Command can reinforce the positions. On 21 May, having fully delivered their Armies, the Farsi Allies counterattacked near New Delhi, getting as close as the town of Bahadurgarh. With their initial attack absorbed by the Farsi Allies, Indian troops dug in, going north towards the Nepalese border and as far south as Jaipur, where the Indian South Command plans to outflank the Farsi Allies. The Battle of New Delhi was ultimately a stalemate. Though the Farsi Allies failed to take New Delhi, their proximity forced the Indians to dig trenches right through the city outskirts. This short distance from the capital made defence a vital priority in this sector of the front.
Being surrounded by hostile nations, the Indian North Command was the first to dig in on their sector of the front. China did not have significant numbers of troops near Kashmir. Pakistani troops quickly attempted to take Kashmir, being a key objective of their war effort. However, due to the rugged terrain and high peaks of the Himalayas, Pakistan did not make any decisive gains here.
Trench Warfare and New Combatants
As in the East, trench systems were established, with the most crucial sector of the front being the area concentrated at the capital of New Delhi. Electing to reduce the pressure from China, Indian High Command ordered the North Command to dig in towards Nepal instead of China, extending the front several hundred kilometres but ending it at a neutral nation. The system stopped short of the Thar Desert, where entrenchment was impossible. However, this left much of the southern areas of the border open. The Indian Government evacuated to the city of Chennai in the southeast of the country. Between May 2030 and July 2031, eight additional nations would send troops to the Western Front. Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan, despite all being in a de jure state of war since 12 April 2030, did not participate right away. By July 2031, all would be finished deploying their contribution to the Western Front. Compared to the Eastern Front, the west saw some fluidity. With much of the southern sector not being entrenched, Indo-American and Eastern Powers troops engaged in back-and-forth combat. The largest offensive saw Eastern Powers troops march towards the city of Bhuj, near the Gulf of Kutch, on 21 July. Indian and American troops held off the advance for thirteen days before being overrun and forced to retreat. However, Bhuj held out under siege. Troops and supplies continued to be sent in via air support and American troops continued to hold onto several important rail lines and highways in and out.