Soviet Submarine Intrusions during 1980’s in the light of Soviet nuclear defence-concept RYAN and “ANTI-RYAN”.

Soviet Submarine Intrusions during 1980’s in the light of Soviet nuclear defence-concept RYAN and “ANTI-RYAN”.

By the spring of 1981, in the wake of the election of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President and with the balance of nuclear deterrence seemingly shifting in NATO’s favor, the Soviet leadership reportedly feared an imminent [nuclear] first strike against the Soviet mainland. In response, the KGB and GRU launched Operation RYAN (Raketno Yadernoye Napadenie, ”nuclear missile attack”) whose main purpose was to obtain information about such an impending attack through covert foreign and military intelligence operations. In the process, Sweden and the Baltic Sea became a key staging ground for a potential nuclear conflict between the super powers. Military and intelligence actions taken to prevent foreign nuclear attacks on the Soviet Union have been termed ANTI-RYAN (Commodore Nils-Ove Jansson in “OMÖJLIG UBÅT”). Such ANTI-RYAN military/intelligence Soviet actions also included Sweden and Swedish waters. The Soviet submarine intrusions in Swedish waters during the 1980’s (U 137 in Karlskrona on 28 October 1981 followed by a note of protest to the Soviet Union on 5 November 1981 ) and in Hårsfjärden in the Stockholm archipelago in October 1982 (followed by a note of protest to the Soviet Union on 26 April 1983) should be seen in the light of the Soviet RYAN/ANTI-RYAN concept/actions.

On 24 October 2015 a PFIAB Top Secret Document was released in Washington, the matter being reported by Washington Post in the article below. I initiated a debate on twitter on the subject, which developed into a larger debate on Internet reflected below. It is the starting point of the Soviet RYAN and ANTI-RYAN-actions that is of paramount importance in view of the Soviet Submarine intrusions in Swedish waters. The starting point is spring 1981 and the Soviet RYAN/ANTI-RYAN program continued until the end of the 80s or even further.

I am discussing the Soviet submarine intrusion in my DAGBOK FRÅN UD /Diaries from the Foreign Ministry/ Vol 1 (2012) and 2 (2014), as also the former Supreme Commander General Bengt Gustafsson in “Sanningen om ubåtsfrågan, Ett försök till analys” (2010) as well as Commodore Nils-Ove Jansson in “Omöjlig ubåt” (2014).


 Featured image

Soviet President Yuri Andropov, center, and other dignitaries in Moscow’s Red Square for the May Day parade in 1983. (Boris Yurchenko/Associated Press)

Intressant – RYAN – i detta ljus skall de sovjetiska ubåtskränkningarna av Sverige 80-talet ses.  Artikel i WASHINGTON POST 25 OCTOBER 2015 om deklassificerade tidigare TOP-SECRET DOCUMENT

Interesting – RYAN in the light of RYAN the Soviet Sub-Marine intrusions during m1980s should be seen. Article WASHINGTON POST 25 OCTOBER 2015 about PFIAB released TOP SECRET DOCUMENT

Declassified report ”The Soviet War Scare,” President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), 15 February 1990, in David E. Hoffman, ”In 1983 ‘war scare,’Soviet leadership feared nuclear surprise attack by U.S., The Washington Post, 24 October 2015.  

In 1983 ‘war scare,’ Soviet leadership feared nuclear surprise attack by U.S.

By David E. Hoffman October 24

A nuclear weapons command exercise by NATO in November 1983 prompted fear in the leadership of the Soviet Union that the maneuvers were a cover for a nuclear surprise attack by the United States, triggering a series of unparalleled Soviet military re­sponses, according to a top-secret U.S. intelligence review that has just been declassified.

“In 1983, we may have inadvertently placed our relations with the Soviet Union on a hair trigger,” the review concluded.

[Read the U.S. assessment on Soviet fears]

That autumn has long been regarded as one of the most tense moments of the Cold War, coming after the Soviet Union shot down a South Korean civilian airliner in September and as the West was preparing to deploy Pershing II intermediate-range and ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe in November. But there has been a long-running debate about whether the period known as the “war scare” was a moment of genuine danger or a period of bluster for propaganda purposes.

The review concluded that for Soviet leaders, the war scare was real, and that U.S. intelligence post­mortems did not take it seriously enough.

The front page of the recently declassified report titled “The Soviet ‘War Scare,’ ” prepared in 1990 for the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. (National Security Archive)

Soviet leaders were particularly alarmed about the NATO exercise, known as Able Archer, carried out in early November 1983 involving forces­ that stretched from Turkey to Britain. Conducted annually to practice the procedures involved in the run-up to a nuclear conflict, the exercise had some new wrinkles that year, including planes that taxied out of hangars carrying realistic-looking dummy warheads, the review said.

The 109-page document, titled “The Soviet ‘War Scare,’ ” was dated Feb. 15, 1990, and written for the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a White House unit that examined intelligence issues. The authors of the review scrutinized classified documents and conducted 75 interviews with U.S. and British officials.

Originally stamped “Top Secret” and containing sensitive signals intelligence, the review was declassified this month in response to a request from the National Security Archive, a non­governmental organization affiliated with George Washington University.

The PFIAB review found that the Soviet Union took unusual military and intelligence precautions at the time of Able Archer that previously had been employed only in actual crises. This included placing air forces­ in East Germany and Poland on higher alert, conducting significantly more reconnaissance flights, and tasking Soviet KGB and military intelligence officers around the world to be on the lookout for signs of nuclear war preparations.

The Soviet actions “strongly” suggest that “Soviet military leaders may have been seriously concerned that the US would use Able Archer 83 as a cover for launching a real attack,” the review concluded. It added that the evidence “strongly indicates that the war scare was real, at least in the minds of some Soviet leaders.”

Some details of the Soviet paranoia about a nuclear attack had come to light earlier, including reports from Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB officer who was an agent for British intelligence. Gordievsky revealed to the British the existence of a KGB intelligence-collection effort to detect indications that the West was preparing for nuclear war. Gordievsky, who defected to Britain in 1985, later published the text of some KGB directives, part of a program known as ­RYAN or ­VRYAN, the acronyms in Russian for sudden nuclear missile attack.

[Oleg Gordievsky: Russia’s Killing Ways]

President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation about his proposed defense budget on March 23, 1983. (Dennis Cook/Associated Press)

Andropov’s worries

Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief who later became Soviet leader, was a major source of the anxiety in Moscow about a surprise nuclear attack. In 1981, Andropov declared to a major KGB conference that the Reagan administration was actively preparing for war and that a nuclear first strike was possible. According to the review, Andropov put “strategic military intelligence” at the top of KGB collection priorities, and he hastily created a special “institute” within the KGB in 1981 to handle it.

His worries about a surprise attack were amplified by “one peculiar mode of intelligence analysis,” a KGB computer model to measure perceived changes­ in the “correlation of ­forces” between the super­powers, according to the review. The computer went online in 1979 to warn Soviet leaders when “deterioration of Soviet power might tempt a US first strike,” the review says. The computer was at the heart of the ­VRYAN system, according to the review, and thousands of pieces of security and economic data were fed into the machine. The computer model assigned a fixed value of 100 to the United States, and Soviet leaders felt they would be safe from a nuclear first strike as long as they were at least at 60 percent of the United States, and ideally at 70 percent. Reports were sent to the ruling Politburo once a month.

Soon, the computer model produced bad news. According to the review, it calculated that Soviet power had declined to 45 percent; it was felt that below 40, the Soviet Union would be “dangerously inferior.” Although “it may seem absurd” to think the Soviet leaders would put stock in such a computer model, the review concluded, “this approach may have been especially appealing to top Soviet leaders at the time” because they craved some kind of scientific evidence of the strategic balance.

By 1983, Andropov had become Soviet leader, succeeding Leonid Brezhnev, and super­power tensions were deepening. According to the review, in January 1983, the Soviet armed forces­ added a fifth level of readiness to the existing four: “Surprise Enemy Attack Using Weapons of Mass Destruction in Progress.” This fifth condition “could be declared regardless of the readiness stage in effect at the time,” the review said.

On March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” By late that summer, the Soviet leadership “appeared to be bracing the population for the worst.” Signs were posted everywhere showing the location of air raid shelters; broadcasts suggesting the possibility of a U.S. attack were on radio and television “several times a day,” the review says.

Soviet spokesmen accused Reagan and his advisers of “madness,” “extremism” and “criminality.” After the Korean airliner was downed, tensions grew over NATO plans to deploy the Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe. Near the end of 1983, the 4th Air Army, a Soviet air force unit in Poland, received orders to speed up the transfer of nuclear weapons from storage to the aircraft, with a maximum time of 25 minutes for one weapon, 40 minutes for two, according to the review.

Meanwhile, Andropov, the Soviet leader, had become gravely ill.

New procedures in 1983

Able Archer was conducted every year and “routinely monitored by Soviet intelligence.” But the November 1983 version had new procedures “which we believe probably fueled Soviet anxieties,” the review found. NATO tested new communications methods, with a more graduated escalation. The Able Archer exercise also used live mobilization exercises from U.S. military forces­ in Europe, the review said. All this may have looked more realistic to Soviet spies, who were watching. Both the KGB and Soviet military intelligence were ordered on Nov. 8 or 9 to report on increased alert at U.S. bases in Europe and to check for other indications of an impending nuclear attack.

The Warsaw Pact, the Soviet-dominated defense alliance, also launched an “unprecedented” reconnaissance effort, including 36 intelligence flights, “significantly more than in previous” years. The review said these included flying over the Norwegian, North, Baltic and Barents seas “probably to determine whether US naval forces were deploying forward in support of Able Archer.” Also, the Warsaw Pact imposed a suspension of all military flight operations between Nov. 4 and 10, except for the intelligence flights, “probably to have available as many aircraft as possible for combat.”

The review notes that Soviet doctrine had called for pre­empting a NATO attack by striking first — and that the Warsaw Pact forces­ had long assumed a NATO offensive would start under cover of an exercise. “There is little doubt in our minds,” the review concluded, “that the Soviets were genuinely worried about Able Archer; however, the depth of that concern is difficult to gauge.” Some Soviet units were probably preparing a preemptive counter­attack, but at the same time, there was no overall, large-scale mobilization. This “mixed” approach reflected the deep uncertainty in the Kremlin over Western intentions, the review found.

“This situation could have been extremely dangerous if during the exercise — perhaps through a series of ill-timed coincidences or because of faulty intelligence — the Soviets had mis­perceived US actions as preparations for a real attack,” the review concluded.

In the aftermath of Able Archer, the U.S. intelligence community commissioned two post­mortems, in May and August 1984, looking back at the events. Both intelligence estimates declared: “We believe strongly that Soviet actions are not inspired by, and Soviet leaders do not perceive, a genuine danger of imminent conflict or confrontation with the United States.” This conclusion was based on the fact that the West had not seen widespread Soviet mobilization for war.

But the PFIAB review was sharply critical of both of these intelligence estimates for being “overconfident” and overly sanguine. The U.S. intelligence community, the board said, “did not at the time, and for several years afterwards, attach sufficient weight to the possibility that the war scare was real.”

[Washington today could use a dose of Reagan’s pragmatism]

This criticism goes to the heart of a long-running debate about the war scare. Intelligence officials who worked on the 1984 estimates say they were correct: The Soviet Union was making noisy gestures, not war preparations. The PFIAB review challenged that conclusion and said the estimates should not have been so categorical, that “strongly worded interpretations were defended by explaining away facts inconsistent with them.”

The PFIAB review repeatedly criticized U.S. intelligence on Soviet leaders, saying at the time of the 1984 post­­mortems that “the US knew very little about Kremlin decision­ making.” It added, “Our own leadership needs far better intelligence reporting on and assessments of the mind­set of the Soviet leadership — its ideological/political instincts and perceptions.” And the review said the 1984 estimates “were over­confident, particularly in the judgments pertaining to Soviet leadership intentions — since little intelligence, human or technical, existed to support them.”

Reagan: ‘Really scary’ events

On a separate track from the two estimates, the director of central intelligence, William Casey, sent a more alarming message to Reagan in June 1984 about the war scare events. Casey’s information came from the intelligence warning staff and showed “a rather stunning array of indicators” of an “increasing aggressiveness in Soviet policy and activities.” Reagan “expressed surprise upon reading the Casey memorandum and described the events as ‘really scary,’ ” former national security adviser Robert McFarlane was quoted in the review.

The war scare marked a turning point for Reagan. He acknowledged that Soviet leaders may have harbored true fears of attack.

He wrote in his diary on Nov. 18, 1983: “I feel the Soviets are so defense minded, so paranoid about being attacked that without being in any way soft on them, we ought to tell them no one here has any intention of doing anything like that. What the h–l have they got that anyone would want.”

Reagan later recalled in his memoir, “Three years had taught me something surprising about the Russians: Many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans. Perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. In fact, I had difficulty accepting my own conclusion at first.”

He said he felt that “it must be clear to anyone” that Americans were a moral people who, since the founding of the nation, “had always used our power only as a force for good in the world.”

“During my first years in Washington,” Reagan said, “I think many of us in the administration took it for granted that the Russians, like ourselves, considered it unthinkable that the United States would launch a first strike against them. But the more experience I had with the Soviet leaders and other heads of state who knew them, the more I began to realize that many Soviet officials feared us not only as adversaries but as potential aggressors who might hurl nuclear weapons at them in a first strike; because of this, and perhaps because of a sense of insecurity and paranoia with roots reaching back to the invasions of Russia by Napoleon and Hitler, they had aimed a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons at us.”

Vänliga hälsningar, Best regards,

Bo J Theutenberg


     Bo Theutenberg @theutenberg
2015-10-25 14:22

RYAN = förklar sovjet ubåtskränkn Sve 80-talet. Dagbok från UD + ”Omöjlig ubåt” (Jansson). #säkpol


B.B. Bo,

Absolut. Detta är en väldigt tung artikel och det är faktiskt både nyttigt och nödvändigt att man bekantar sig grundligt med den underrättelserapport som den bygger på och som frisläpptes nyligen i USA.

Ifall mitt minne inte sviker mig har Bengt Gustafsson påpekat särskilt hur Andropovs agenter i Tyskland hade en särskild order att hålla Bundesmarines baser under noggrann uppsikt.

Ifall man plötsligt såg att ytfartygen och ubåtarna gick ut till sjöss i forcerad takt skulle detta vara en klar indikation på att ett amerikanskt preventivt första slag var på kommande, resonerade KGB. Orsaken varför man tänkte just så var den, att man då omedelbart skulle eliminera Natos alla inkörsportar i ett vedergällningsslag, bland dem hamnarna i Tyskland. Då skulle tyskarna naturligvis ha försäkrat sig om att deras flottstyrkor inte fanns kvar. SS-20 var det vapen som då främst skulle användas.

Men långt viktigare än att bara förstå det historiska spelet är att jämföra materialet med Putinregimens analyser och utsagor. Andropovs retorik från tidigt 1980-tal går igen på ett sätt som förstummar. Kolla t.ex. ett citat av honom på s. 61-62 i rapporten med det som Putin yttrade vid Valdai-klubbens möte den 22/10 (hittas lätt på presidentens officiella hemsida). Det är skäl att hålla i minnet att Ryssland håller på att återintroducera vapen som är bättre versioner av dem som man tvingades eliminera vid tillämpningen av INF-avtalet. Ersättaren för SS-20 är RS-26 Rubezj och tas snart i bruk.

Andropov är ju f.ö. snarast helgonförklarad av Putin och hans närmaste medarbetare med bagrund i Firman, dvs Sergej Ivanov, Nikolaj Patrusjev och nuvarande FSB-chefen Aleksandr Bortnikov.

En annan prominent figur i den amerikanska rapporten är KGB-chefen Vladimir Krjutjkov, den verkliga förgrundsfiguren i augustiputschen 1991, men som frigavs redan 1994. Även han var helt på samma linje som Andropov och ansåg att övningen Able Archer var preludiet till kriget mot USA och Nato.

Ett mått på hur mycket Putin uppskattade Krjutjkov var att denne som alltså faktiskt var dömd för landsförräderi men snabbt benådades, inbjöds som en i den ryska eliten att hedra Putins installation till president år 2000 med sin närvaro. Firman, Korporatsija, hade återtagit makten.

Andropovs och Krjutjkovs narrativ har nu helt övertagits av Putin och hans kumpaner. Putins Valdai-tal är i det avseendet lika förfärligt som det är absurt. Det är detta vi även i Finland och Sverige måste förhålla oss till.

M v h,

Stefan Forss


   Bo Theutenberg   @theutenberg
2015-10-25 17:46

Ang RYAN se äv f ÖB Bengt Gustafssons bok ”Sanningen om ubåtsfrågan” – ”sovj hotet mot Sve und kalla kriget”. Lika farligt som Kuba #säkpol


One additional comment re your earlier lines below :

    ”Ifall mitt minne inte sviker mig har Bengt Gustafsson påpekat särskilt hur Andropovs agenter i Tyskland hade en särskild order att hålla Bundesmarines baser under noggrann uppsikt.”

Bengt was correct, however that particular indicator was  only a very small part of the whole.
Under RYAN, KGB head Kryuchkov established a joint KGB-STASI project to develop an indicator list of events that would signal ”an immanent US pre-emptive nuclear attack on the USSR”. The burden of the task was given to a special branch of the STASI.
I had the opportunity last year to examine and annotate the indicator list that the STASI developed. It is a document of something under 100 pages as I recall, and it is not yet publicly available. It contained about 10 categories of indicator events, and a total of many hundreds of individual indicators.
Between 90 and 95 % of them were ridiculous in the sense that they bore little or no relation to what might be externally discernable immediately before ”– an immanent US pre-emptive nuclear attack on the USSR.”
Regards, Milton


I wonder if they are executing RYaN 2.0 now. The furious reaction towards the recent BMD-test in the North Atlantic and Trident Juncture 15’s footprint from NA to Eastern Med speaks volumes. The Baltic Fleet is out and running amphibious assault-exercises. The number of flash-messages (via open COMINT) is peaking. New call-signs are established and a further long list of indications displaying high activity. Ok, it is October, but anyway.

Given the fact that the steering wheel in Kreml is made up of Andropovs KGB-structure from Leningrad, one legit Q is what he instilled in them. He might only lasted a short time as generalsecretary, but he was the KGB-boss for nearly two decades (and survived). I believe they can interpret the release of AA83 as a US Maskirovka to lure them into passive mode.


25 October 2015


These sections (see below) of the released PFIAB document (referring to the period 1981-1983 about RYAN, spetnaz, the Baltic and so forth) are especially thrilling since it coincides with U-137 Oct-Nov 81 and Hårsfjärden Oct 82 ( with the protest note 26 April 83) where both I, Bengt Gustafsson and Nils-Ove Jansson see the intrusions in the light of RYAN. Enforced by the simultaneous events in Poland peaking ”Lucia” 13 December 1981 when Jaruzelski ”took over” as an alternative to the contemplated Soviet ”take over” on basis of the Brezhnev-doctrine. (detailed notes about this in my Dagbok från UD vol 1 p 59 et seq and Vol 2 p 78 et seq). So ”War scare 83″/ RYAN was in the Soviet eyes enforced/combined with events in Poland where US/NATO supported Solidarnotz, as we did. In Dagbok från UD I refer to my own secret ”Swedish Behaviour Memorandum” dated 1980-12-10 with instructions for Swedish (civilian and military behaviour) in the Baltic in case of refugee masses escaping from Poland. Here we foresaw a possible cooperation with NATO. This, thus, in the middle of the Soviet RYAN-thinking/doctrine. I think (as Gustafsson and Jansson) that the stranding of U-137 should be seen both in the light of RYAN and of our possible/intended cooperation with NATO in the Baltic following events in Poland.  Under the suspicion of our cooperation with US/NATO the Soviets saw it necessary to launch different spetsnaz-operations against us ( as Nils-Ove Jansson describes in ”Omöjlig ubåt”). As they also did in Hårsfjärden Oct 82. ( chapter 37 in Vol 2 Dagbok från UD). With the release in Washington of the top classified document the background of the Soviet sub intrusions during the 80’s is appearing clearer and clearer. And as Johan Victorin puts it: is Putin launching a RYAN 2, with the same effect on the Swedish archipelago as 30 years ago. Really it seems like it!

  • The PFIAB based their conclusions on hundreds of documents and more than 75 interviews with American and British officials.
  • The document presents unreported information about Soviet actions to prepare for nuclear war, beginning in 1981. These included official briefings by Soviet officials to their East European allies warning ”that the world was on the brink of war”; increasing deployments of Spetsnaz forces, expanding reservist call-ups, and extending active duty tours; ending military support for the harvest (last seen before the 1968 Czech invasion); increasing procurement of military equipment in 1983 by 5 to 10 percent (at the expense of production of civilian goods); converted plants from tractor to tank production and buying back airframes from Eastern European countries; improving the time needed to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine to 20 minutes; enhancing nuclear strike forces in the forward area by deploying nuclear capable SU-24 bombers to East Germany, Poland, and Hungary; deploying, for the first time ever, nuclear-capable artillery to front line ground forces opposite NATO; and reports that a letter from Andropov was read at closed party meetings across the country which ”decla[ed] that the motherland was truly in danger and that there was no chance for an improvement in relations with the United States.”
  • The document also provides new information on Operation RYaN, likely from Oleg Gordievsky, including more details on the primitive computer model the Soviets apparently used to help determine if and when the US would launch a nuclear attack at the USSR. This computer, developed by military and economic specialists, consisted of a database of 40,000 weighted military, political, and economic factors, including ”indicators” reported from agents abroad. ”Before long,” the report states, the computer ”started spewing very unwelcome news:” that by 1984 Soviet power had declined to just 45 percent of that of the United States. [5]
  • Operation RYaN, according to a 1988 CIA assessment, ”resulted from high-level political concern, and was not solely an intelligence initiative.” The FBI did not detect the establishment of Operation RYaN, but did ”note an increase in Soviet targeting and collection of US military plans beginning in 1982”; according to the report, residencies abroad received a warning that ”the United states was positioning itself for war.”
  • The report also includes new information on the US detection of the Soviet response to Able Archer 83. Moscow’s actions included an ”unprecedented technical collection foray against Able Archer 83,” including over 36 Soviet intelligence flights, significantly more than previous exercises. These were conducted over the Norwegian, North, Baltic, and Barents Seas, ”probably to determine whether US naval forces were deploying forward in support of Able Archer.” Warsaw Pact military reactions to Able Archer 83 were also ”unparalleled in scale” and included ”transporting nuclear weapons from storage sites to delivery units by helicopter,” suspension of all flight operations except intelligence collection flights from 4 to 10 November, ”probably to have available as may aircraft as possible for combat.” Several other actions remain redacted and hidden. Two of these likely involve nuclear preparations as the phrase ”30-minute, around-the-clock readiness time and assigning priority targets” was not redacted. The report’s authors conclude that this response ”strongly suggests to us that Soviet military leaders may have been seriously concerned that the US would use Able Archer 83 as a cover of launching a real attack.”

Med vänliga hälsningar/Best regards,

Bo J Theutenberg


  You also have to include the very important adjustment of the treat perception and military doctrine that took place driven by Nicolay Ogarkov from 1977 onwards under the impression of emerging FOFA capabilities.

Ogarkov considered that he could only depend on the a first operational echelon consisting of the three Soviet Group of Forces and the two armies of the NVA. The Polish Army lost its role as the ”Coastal Front”. Everything depended on a very early in a crisis launch of a standing forces invasion with two fronts preceeded by OMGs before the completion of NATO mobilisation, forward deployment, arrival of reinforcements and consolidation of the now improving anti-mobility defences.

The concept needed aggressive use of spetnaz elements.

I know from interviews with ex-Soviet fighter pilots then operating from bases along the Baltic Coast that they would operate over Sweden from the start of any war to meet cruise missiles from the Norwegian Sea.

It is important to note that Ogarkov lost his job to his deputy Akromeyev immediately after Andropov’s death and the return of collective leadership.



27 October 2015

Hello again,

Just a short remark with regard to time and dates. We have the very detailed, well-informed and interesting “inside report” from Commodore Nils-Ove Jansson, which I mainly rely upon (but also see Bengt Gustafsson). Nils-Ove – who should know since he was involved – states several times in “Omöjlig ubåt” that ANTI.-RYAN measures were taken already as early as 1981 (of course.- ANTI-RYAN must precede RYAN if the whole thing would work). Nils-Ove Jansson says (my rough and quick translation) p 166 that the “first AntiRyan-operation was prepared during autumn 1981” — “The planning was tested in sequences from August/September until November 1981. Mostly all went according to plans but for the grounding of U 137 /U 137 grounded 1957 SNT on 28 October 1981) which had been ordered to evacuate a spetsnazgroup with the assignment to prepare nuclear destroy of the Naval Base in Blekinge”. He repeats on page 167 that the time period for AntiRyan is from 1981 until the end of the 80’s. At page 170 it is stated that “Operation Anti-Ryan was started by orders from Brezhnev 1981.

Nils-Ove continues to say (p 177 et seq) that the Captain of U-137 during the night 25 October received a ”codeword” from the Commanding center ashore and that the Captain then opened a sealed package he had onboard. This has been verified. The Order however did not come from the Commanding Central of the Baltic marine but was sent from GRU:s Marine Intelligence unit. /—– the task of U 137 had been made up in advance since U 137 had with it a sealed order and a higher officer on board. This indicates that the task was a ”broad task” that the Captain knew nothing about and about which he was to be oriented by the accompanying Chief of staff for the 157th Submarine Brigade Commodore Josef Avrukevitj, if and when the codeword (the order) had been received. This was a common procedure for handling highly classified (secret) tasks. The Chiefs of Staff at all important Soviet military units were  GRU-officers, which also Avrukevitj was. The crew in general did not know anything about the real task — When the guidance of the submarine was taken over by GRU Marine Intelligence Unit at the sending of the codeword (the Order) the ordinary Command of the Baltic Marine thought U 137 still was lying in the area originally assigned to it. It was not ever the intention that it should know the real task of U 137. — What was then the assignment of U 137? U 137 was ordered to enter Gåsefjärden in order to assist and take onboard spetsnazdivers which had had the assignment to prepare the stationing of nuclear mines (kärnladdningar/atomminor) within the Karlskrona Naval Base according to the plan for the Operation AntiRYAN. — Commodore Avrukevitj was probably leading this operation. —“

These are some quick remarks which I would emphasize in regard to the time-factors regarding the start of Anti-RYAN and RYAN.

Best regards

Bo Theutenberg


Just one point. When we reconstructed the different plans for the invasion of Denmark, it became clear that the landings on the Zealand Group of Islands had been an all-Polish-NVA affair. That surprised us. We had expected that both some Soviet airborne units and the naval infantry brigade from Sovietsk outside Kaliningrad would be used, but that was not the case.

With the naval infantry brigade available for other operations in the Baltic Sea, and the Soviet tendency to employ all front-line quality for the initial offensive, I consider it likely that the naval infantry would be employed against one of three objectives: Gotland, the coast south of Stockholm or the Aland Islands. If I were a Soviet planner, I would have chosen the second option because a bridge-head there would destabilise Swedish defence elsewhere as the counteroffensive capability of the Swedish Army was very weak. And I would land immediately at the same time as operations started further south. An early landing in Central Sweden would also totally unbalance the planned northwards concentration of Norwegian forces and thus undermine the planned NATO defence of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

The confirmation, however, is hidden in the General Staff archives, because the operation would have been an all-Soviet affair. No Polish og NVA involvement.



tack för informationen om det frisläppta dokumentet The Soviet ”War Scare”. Det överensstämmer med den information jag tidigare har fått österifrån. Operation RYAN beslutades av Brezjnev i maj 1981 på förslag av Andropov. Underrättelseinhämtningen pågick redan före den tidpunkten men systematiserades efter beslutet om RYAN. Ett antal små datorer seriekopplades, eftersom datorer med stor kapacitet saknades i Sovjet vid den tiden, och de programmerades med underrättelsebehov för att i förväg kunna upptäcka ett västligt kärnvapen anfall. Datorerna betjänades av 200 underrättelseofficerare och datatekniker. När ryssarna upptäckte att man höll på att starta ett kärnvapenkrig av misstag vid Able Archer nov-1983 förstärktes organisationen med ytterligare 50 man.

(Bland tusentals underrättelsebehov ingick också att veta vilka fönster i vissa militära och civila stabsbyggnader som lyste om natten och om pizzabeställningarna i närområdet ökade. Alla som varit med i stabsarbete vid större kriser vet att matbehovet måste tillgodoses. Pizza är lätt att beställa och kan ätas varm eller kall.  Ett tecken på innovativt tänkande av den sovjetiska underrättelsetjänsten. Självklart kände man till när det var budgettider och Superbowl.)

Planering och förberedelser för motanfallet som jag valt att kalla AntiRYAN i min bok påbörjades omedelbart efter Brezjnevs beslut i maj 1981 och prövades i stor skala vid NATOs Reforger-övning i september 1981. I AntiRYAN operationen ingick bl a den stora Zapad-övningen som var ”Follow-on-Forces” till WPs anfall västerut i Centraleuropa. NATOs FOFA koncept försvårade ju förstärkningar landvägen. Hur Sverige påverkades av AntiRYAN har jag beskrivit i Omöjlig Ubåt. Vid förberedelserna för utplacering av atomminor i svenska vatten grundstötte U-137.




Also the Soviet coastal operations against Sweden (and Finland) began in the early 70’s at the latest.


Ämne: On the question of when RYaN/RYAN was initiated

On Tuesday I sent the query y that you will find below to the compilers of the several National Security Archives document sets about the Able Archer episode. (You will find the links to all of those in messages that I distributed previously.)

You will find the replies below. They came in three segments, and they all appear to be excerpted from those earlier posted document sets.

I think that this is somewhat more reliable than Nils-Ove’s ”osterifran”, but it supports his contention.

The query also went to another individual who knows more about available documentation in Soviet archives than anyone else alive, and if he should reply differently, it might modify or overturn the information below, but so far he has not commented.

Regards, Milton Leitenberg


Nate et al.

There is a debate taking place among my Scandinavian colleagues about the relation of Soviet submarine operations in Swedish coastal waters between the fall of 1981 and 1986-7 and the KGB’s RYAN program.

A former Swedish naval intelligence officer who published  a book last year has just written in an email message that :

   Operation RYAN beslutades av Brezjnev i maj 1981 på förslag av Andropov [ Operation RYAN was decided on by Brezhnev in May 1981 upon presentation of a proposal (for it) by Andropov.]

The retired Swedish naval officer writes that he obtained this information from informants “in the East”.

   Do any of you know of any documentation that supports the claim that Brezhnev made such a decision in May 1981, and that Andropov had already suggested something like RYAN/RYaN prior to May 1981?

Thanks very much for any information that you can provide.

Regards, Milton

On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 1:17 PM, Nate Jones wrote:

Dear Milton,

From (with links to the KGB documents (especially near Document 8)

Gordievsky has written:
”In May of 1981 the ageing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev denounced Reagan’s policies in a secret address to a major KGB conference in Moscow. The most dramatic speech, however, was given by Yuri Andropov, [then] Chairman of the KGB … The new American administration, he declared, was actively preparing for nuclear war. To the astonishment of his audience, Andropov then announced that, by a decision of the Politburo, the KGB and GRU were for the first time to cooperate in a worldwide intelligence operation codenamed RYaN.” [12]

[12] Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985, (Stanford: Stanford University Press 1991), 67. A quasi-official history of Russian foreign intelligence states that the goal of Operation RYAN was to counter ”the real threat to the security of the USSR and Warsaw Pact countries” caused by Western military developments and the introduction of new weapons systems. A.I. Kolpakidi and D.P. Prokhorov,Vneshnyaya razvedka Rossii (The Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia) (Saint Petersburg: Neva, 2001), 80.

KGB annual reports, now released, covering 1981 and 1982 seem to corroborate this.

While Yuri Andropov’s 1981 KGB report to Leonid Brezhnev did not use the specific term ”Operation RYaN,” it did state that the KGB had ”implemented measures to strengthen intelligence work in order to prevent a possible sudden outbreak of war by the enemy.” To do this, the KGB ”actively obtained information on military and strategic issues, and the aggressive military and political plans of imperialism [the United States] and its accomplices,” and ”enhanced the relevance and effectiveness of its active intelligence abilities.”

The 1982 report — this time sent to General Secretary Andropov from KGB Chairman Victor Chebrikov — confirmed genuine Soviet fears of encirclement. It noted the challenges of counting on ”U.S. and NATO aspirations to change the existing military-strategic balance,” and, as such, ”Primary attention was paid to military and strategic issues related to the danger of the enemy’s thermonuclear attack.”  See document 8 here.

The newly declassified War Scare PFIAB report includes further description of RYaN (My guess is from Gordievsky) but not much on exactly when it began.

See page 43 (and others)

Hope this is helpful,



On Tue, Oct 27, 2015, Nate Jones  wrote:

Also see RYaN Translation 2 here.



Here is the text from the above link.

(page 15)

Comrade Zinyov: Comrade Mielke raises very important questions that also concern our Chekists – namely preventive information, so that nothing takes us by surprise. In May 1981 we analyzed at our All-Union meeting with L. I. Brezhnev and Y. V. Andropov all questions of our past journey and defined the concrete tasks for our organs as stipulated in our laws. This was just about the Chekist work, i.e. the struggle against espionage and terror, questions of the economy and the morale, the construction industry et cetera. The demand was to allow for “no surprise”. Our organs coordinated their work from this perspective; this means we also have to deal with such questions not explicitly assigned to the State Security in order to implement the line of the party. We have to continuously improve and qualify mutual information.

To try and determine a ”best date” to use I then asked Nate Jones
Nate, one key question remains : what do you use as the date of initiation of RYaN/RYAN ??
— and the reply was

May of 1981 is the closest I can pin down. 

I have not seen a transcript of the meeting where it was announced
by Andropov, just reports of that meeting.  




This is more or less what I remembered.
The phrasing of the line in the PFIAB report is therefore somewhat misleading : Soviet nuclear artillery was in several WTO member states long before the fall of 1983, but they apparently had never before been moved up right to the front line.
This completes my promised search for information.
Milton Leitenberg
Sent: Wed, Oct 28, 2015
—  to the extent I understand what you want to know, I published an article several years ago showing that in the 1960s the Soviet Union began deploying tactical nuclear warheads, tactical nuclear bombs, and nuclear-capable delivery vehicles, including artillery, on the territory of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.   A total of twenty Soviet nuclear weapons storage sites were located in these four countries (eight in East Germany, five in Poland, four in Czechoslovakia, and three in Hungary), and an additional three storage installations for Soviet tactical nuclear munitions were located in Bulgaria, evidently for wartime deployments against NATO’s Southern flank countries (Turkey and Greece).   Another twelve facilities — three in Poland, three in Hungary, and six in East Germany — could have been diverted from their primary functions and used as nuclear munitions storage sites during wartime.  The bilateral agreements regarding the 23 main Soviet tactical nuclear weapons sites in Eastern Europe were described as coming “within the framework of the Warsaw Pact,” but the nuclear warheads and bombs stored at these sites — as many as 1,070 nuclear bombs and some 2,900 nuclear warheads of various yields— were kept under strict Soviet control at all times, with no access for East European troops.  The dual-capable delivery vehicles deployed by the East European armed forces would have come under direct Soviet command if they had ever been equipped with nuclear warheads in wartime.