Operation Lazarev was a Soviet military operation involving the evacuation of Soviet personnel and ships from the Tanarsus System from mid January to late February of 2285. The evacuation was initiated following the outbreak of war between the Soviet Union and Greater German Reich and the defeat of a Soviet battlegroup on route to Tanarsus Proper in the first few hours of the conflict. With German orbital supremacy over Tanarsus inevitable, Soviet and Kharkov Pact forces attempted to evacuate as many ships and select military units as possible before the German fleet arrived. Over the course of the evacuation, over 170,000 Kharkov Pact personnel and 1100 ships escaped the system.
Within hours of the declaration of war between the Greater German Reich and the Soviet Union, the main Soviet battlegroup in the system was engaged and routed by a Kriegsmarine fleet in the Battle of Vinkel. The Soviet fleet had intended to reinforce the system prior to any invasion and its withdrawal ended any hopes repelling the initial German attack.
At the time of the outbreak of war, the Soviet Union had roughly 450 ships stationed in the Tanarsus System and 2 divisions consisting of just under 30,000 men on the surface of Tanarsus Proper. Of the ships the Soviet Navy had in the system, only a handful were modern warships and the divisions on the surface were intended only to dissuade the Carinthia State and Republic of Galleria. Soviet and Kharkov Pact forces on Tanarsus, while relatively well equipped, would be unable to withstand a full invasion without friendly naval support.
On January 16th, a partial evacuation of the system was ordered. Those affected were mostly civilian workers who had been assigned to the still incomplete Yegoryevsk Station and select military units whose usefulness would be limited during a planetary invasion. The remaining Soviet units would be divided among the Kharkov Pact forces on the planet with the intention of advancing as far as possible into Carinthia before German reinforcements could arrive.
The evacuation was undertaken amid chaotic conditions. With only estimates as to when the German fleet would arrive, Soviet ships scattered across the system raced back to Tanarsus Proper. On the planet, news of the defeat of the Soviet battlegroup had been largely supressed and confusion spread quickly amongst allied forces as to why the evacuation had been ordered, even as the invasion of Carinthia commenced.
On the first day of the evacuation, a small Soviet and allied battlegroup consisting of one cruiser, eighteen destroyers and 39 other craft was hastily organized and departed for the outer system in the hopes of tracking and possibly delaying the German fleet. The rest of the allied ships in orbit were hurriedly loaded with evacuees and sensitive equipment before being sent in all directions to reduce their chances of being intercepted.
The main German allies in Tanarsus, the Carinthia State and Republic of Galleria, were hardly a match for Soviet forces and it was believed they would be too preoccupied defending their territory on the planet to attempt to interfere with the evacuation. On January 17th however, Carinthian strikecraft from either airfields on the surface or bases hidden in the system intercepted several transports near the gas giant Fegefeuer. Confusion surrounding the origin of the attacks left the Soviet response muddled and attacks on fleeing ships would continue for the remainder of the evacuation.
By January 21st, much of the operation had been completed, but with fleeing allied ships still arriving over Tanarsus Proper, the evacuation was expanded to include government officials and certain Novorossiyan and Volhynian military units. That same day, the Soviet battle line dispatched to intercept and track the German fleet reported that it expected the enemy forces to arrive before February 6th.
The German fleet arrived in orbit over Tanarsus on February 2nd and after a brief engagement situated around Yegoryevsk Station, dispatched groups of warships to intercept transports still taking off from cosmodromes and airfields across the planet. Over the following week, German ships shot down hundreds of vessels attempting to flee Tanarsus and by February 11th, any further evacuations as part of Operation Lazarev were suspended.
Over the course of Operation Lazarev, a large percentage of the Kharkov Pact starships in the system were able to escape successfully, along with 9 divisions of combat troops and many more support and civilian personnel. Among those evacuated was the 111th Guards Orbital Assault Division, which would later spearhead the Soviet counterattack on the planet following the Second Battle of Tanarsus in June of that same year.