In 2016, a nuclear attack occurs in Saudi Arabia, killing 20 million people and crippling the world's oil supply. The following year, the United States of America and the European Union sign the historic SLAMS (Space-Land-Air Missile Shield) Treaty, agreeing to co-develop technologies for a comprehensive, interlocking anti-ballistic missile system. The US and EU test launch nuclear salvos against each other, which the SLAMS weapons completely destroy. Emboldened by the success of the tests, the US and EU pronounce "the end of strategic nuclear war," and the world celebrates a new age of peace. But with crude oil at USD 800 a barrel, the EU member-states are forced to consolidate political, economic, and military power to form the "European Federation" in 2018. The United Kingdom and Ireland decline membership, instead merging to form the "New Commonwealth", an ally of the EF. Nations too weak the join the EF, notably the Balkans (except Bulgaria and Greece), along with Ukraine, Moldovia, and most of Romania collapse completely, and were subsequently taken over by Russia, who refer to it as "their land". The US and EF regard each other's power as a threat to their own, and the now fractured former allies embark on a costly space arms race with each other. Russia, being the world's new number one supplier of natural gas and crude oil, has its economy skyrocket up with the energy crisis, spending its oil profits on modernizing its armed forces, creating its own missile defense system, and utilizing its new-found power to influence world events.
The militarization of space reaches its peak in 2018, when the United States reveals plans to launch the Freedom Star space station into high orbit by 2020, in an effort to regain its position as the premier world superpower. While partly designed for civilian research purposes, the station will also house three companies of U.S. Marines, who can deploy anywhere on Earth within 90 minutes. International reaction is
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