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Operation RYAN (or RYaN) was a cold war military intelligence program run by the USSR during the early 1980s when they believed the United States was planning for an imminent first strike attack. The name is an acronym for Raketno-Yadernoe Napadenie (Russian: Ракетно-ядерное нападение, "Nuclear Missile Attack"). The purpose of the operation was to collect intelligence on potential contingency plans of the Reagan administration to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union.[1][2][3] The program was initiated in May 1981 by Yuri Andropov, then chairman of KGB.

RYAN took on a new significance after the announcement of plans to deploy Pershing II nuclear-capable missiles to West Germany.[1] These missiles were designed to be launched from road-mobile vehicles, making the launch sites very hard to find. The flight time from West Germany to European Russia was only four to six minutes (approximate flying time from six to eight minutes from West Germany to Moscow), giving the Soviets little or no warning.

On 23 March 1983 Ronald Reagan publicly announced development of the SDI program. Soviet leadership felt that the use of SDI technology was to render America invulnerable to Soviet attack, thereby allowing the US to launch missiles against the USSR with no fear of retaliation. This concern about a surprise attack prompted sudden expansion of the RYAN program. The level of concern reached its peak after the Soviets shot down KAL 007 near Moneron Island on 1 September 1983, and during the NATO Exercise Able Archer 83. The Soviet Union believed that a United States first strike on the Soviet Union was imminent.[1]

Operation RYAN was downscaled in 1984, after the deaths of its main proponents, Yuri Andropov and defense minister Dmitriy Ustinov.[1]

See also

References

Further reading

  • War Scare – Peter Vincent Pry
  • A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare – Benjamin B. Fischer [1]

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