Viktor Suvorov. Spetsnaz Chapter 15. Spetsnaz's First World War
I was standing on the top of an enormous skyscraper in New York when I
saw King Kong. The huge gorilla surveyed Manhattan triumphantly from a dizzy
height. Of course I knew it wasn't real. But there was something both
frightening and symbolic in that huge black figure.
I learnt later that the gorilla was a rubber one, that it had been
decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the showing of the first
film about King Kong by creating a gigantic inflatable model of the beast
and placing it high above New York. The rubber monster was hauled up and
swayed about in the wind. From the technical point of view the operation had
been a real triumph by the engineers and workmen who had taken part in it.
But it was not an entire success. The monster turned out to be too huge,
with the result that holes appeared in its body through which the air could
escape. So the gigantic muscular frame quickly collapsed into a shapeless
bag. They had to pump more air into it, but the harder they pumped the
bigger the holes became and the quicker the air escaped from the monster. So
they had to keep on pumping....
The Communist leaders have also created a rubber monster and have
hauled it up to a dizzy height. The monster is known as the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics, and the Soviet leaders are faced with a dilemma: to
expand or to decline rapidly and become a flabby sack. It is interesting to
note that the Soviet Union became a superpower in the course of the most
destructive war in the history of civilisation, in spite of the fact that it
suffered the greatest loss of life and the greatest destruction on its own
territory. It has become a military superpower and perhaps war is essential
for its existence.
I do not know how or when World War Three will start. I do not know
exactly how the Soviet high command plans to make use of spetsnaz in that
war: the first world war in which spetsnaz will be a major contributor. I do
not wish to predict the future. In this chapter I shall describe how
spetsnaz will be used at the beginning of that war as I imagine it. It is
not my task to describe what will happen. But I can describe what might
The last month of peace, as in other wars, has an almost palpable air
of crisis about it. Incidents, accidents, small disasters add to the
tension. Two trains collide on a railway bridge in Cologne because the
signalling system is out of order. The bridge is seriously damaged and there
can be no traffic over it for the next two months.
In the port of Rotterdam a Polish supertanker bursts into flames.
Because of an error by the captain the tanker is far too close to the oil
storage tanks on the shore, and the burning oil spreads around the harbour.
For two weeks fire brigades summoned from practically the whole country
fight an heroic battle with the flames. The port suffers tremendous losses.
The fire appears to have spread at a quite incredible speed, and some
experts are of the opinion that the Polish tanker was not the only cause of
the fire, that the fire broke out simultaneously in many places.
In the Panama Canal the Varna, a Bulgarian freighter loaded with heavy
containers, rams the lock gates by mistake. Experts reckoned that the ship
should have remained afloat, but for some reason she sinks there and then.
To reopen the canal could well take many months. The Bulgarian government
sends its apologies and declares itself ready to pay for all the work
In Washington, as the President's helicopter is taking off, several
shots are fired at it from sniper's rifles. The helicopter is only slightly
damaged and the crew succeed in bringing it down again safely. No one in the
craft is hurt. Responsibility for the attack is claimed by a previously
unknown organisation calling itself `Revenge for Vietnam'.
There is a terrorist explosion at Vienna airport.
A group of unidentified men attack the territory of the British
military base in Cyprus with mortars.
A serious accident takes place on the most important oil pipeline in
Alaska. The pumping stations break down and the flow of oil falls to a
In West Germany there are several unsuccessful attempts on the lives of
In the North Sea the biggest of the British oil rigs tips over and
sinks. The precise reason for this is not established, although experts
believe that corrosion of main supports is the culprit.
In the United States an epidemic of some unidentified disease breaks
out and spreads rapidly. It seems to affect port areas particularly, such as
San Francisco, Boston, Charleston, Seattle, Norfolk and Philadelphia.
There are explosions practically every day in Paris. The main targets
are the government districts, communication centres and military
headquarters. At the same time terrible forest fires are raging in the South
All these operations -- because of course none of these events is an
accident -- and others like them are known officially in the GRU as the
`preparatory period', and unofficially as the `overture'. The overture is a
series of large and small operations the purpose of which is, before actual
military operations begin, to weaken the enemy's morale, create an
atmosphere of general suspicion, fear and uncertainty, and divert the
attention of the enemy's armies and police forces to a huge number of
different targets, each of which may be the object of the next attack.
The overture is carried by agents of the secret services of the Soviet
satellite countries and by mercenaries recruited by intermediaries. The
principal method employed at this stage is `grey terror', that is, a kind of
terror which is not conducted in the name of the Soviet Union. The Soviet
secret services do not at this stage leave their visiting cards, or leave
other people's cards. The terror is carried out in the name of already
existing extremist groups not connected in any way with the Soviet Union, or
in the name of fictitious organisations.
The GRU reckons that in this period its operations should be regarded
as natural disasters, actions by forces beyond human control, mistakes
committed by people, or as terrorist acts by organisations not connected
with the Soviet Union.
The terrorist acts carried out in the course of the `overture' require
very few people, very few weapons and little equipment. In some cases all
that may be needed is one man who has as a weapon nothing more than a
screwdriver, a box of matches or a glass ampoule. Some of the operations can
have catastrophic consequences. For example, an epidemic of an infectious
disease at seven of the most important naval bases in the West could have
the effect of halving the combined naval might of the Soviet Union's
The `overture' could last from several weeks to several months,
gradually gathering force and embracing fresh regions. At the same time the
GUSM would become involved. Photographs compromising a NATO chief appear on
the front pages of Western newspapers. A scandal explodes. It appears that
some of the NATO people have been having meetings with high-ranking Soviet
diplomats and handing over top secret papers. All efforts to refute the
story only fuel the fire. The public demands the immediate dismissal of
NATO's chiefs and a detailed enquiry. Fresh details about the affair are
published in the papers and the scandal increases in scope. At that moment
the KGB and GRU can take out and dust off a tremendous quantity of material
and put it into circulation. The main victims now are the people whom the
Soviets had tried to recruit but failed. Now carefully edited and annotated
materials get into the hands of the press. Soviet Intelligence has tried to
recruit thousands, even tens of thousands, of people in its time. They
include young lieutenants who have now become generals and third secretaries
who have now become ambassadors. All of them rejected Soviet efforts to
recruit them, and now Soviet Intelligence avenges their refusal. The number
of scandalous affairs increases. The nations discover to their surprise that
there are very few people to be trusted. The Soviet intelligence service has
nothing to lose if the press gets hold of material showing that it tried to
recruit a French general, without saying how the attempt ended. It has even
less to lose on the eve of war. That is why the newspapers are full of
demands for investigations and reports of resignations, dismissals and
suicides. The best way of killing a general is to kill him with his own
There is a marked increase in the strength of the peace movement. In
many countries there are continual demands to make the country neutral and
not to support American foreign policy, which has been discredited. At this
point the `grey terror' gathers scope and strength and in the last days of
peace reaches its peak.
From the first moment of the first day of war the main forces of
spetsnaz go into action. From then on the terror is conducted in the name of
the Soviet Union and of the Communist leadership: `red terror'.
But between the `grey' and the `red' terror there may be an
intermediate period -- the `pink' terror, when active military operations
have not yet begun and there is still peace, but when some of the best
spetsnaz units have already gone into action. The situation is complicated
by the fact that, on the one hand, Soviet fighting units are already in
battle, but that, on the other hand, they are not yet operating in the name
of the Soviet Union. This is an exceptionally risky moment for the Soviet
high command. But he who risks nothing gains nothing. The Soviet commanders
want to gain a great deal, and so are ready to risk a lot. A great deal has
of course been done to reduce the level of risk. Only a relatively small
number of spetsnaz troops take part in the `pink' terror, but they are the
best people in spetsnaz -- professional athletes of Olympic class.
Everything has been done to make sure that not one of them should fall into
the hands of the enemy before the outbreak of war. A great deal has also
been done to ensure that, if one of them should fall into enemy hands at
that moment, it would be very difficult to establish his connection with any
The `pink' terror may continue for no more than a few hours. But those
are the most important hours and minutes -- the very last hours and minutes
of peace. It is very important that those hours and minutes should be spoilt
for the enemy and used for the maximum advantage to the Soviet side. It must
be pointed out that the `pink' terror may not be carried out at all. It is
used only when there is absolute certainty of the success of the operations
and equal certainty that the enemy will not be able in the remaining hours
and minutes to assess the situation correctly and strike the first
For Soviet Communists the month of August has a special significance.
It was in August that the First World War began, which resulted in
revolutions in Russia, Germany and Hungary. In August 1939 Georgi Zhukov
succeeded in doing something that no one before him had managed to do: with
a sudden blow he routed a group of Japanese forces in the Far East. It is
possible that that blow had very far-reaching consequences: Japan decided
against attacking the Soviet Union and chose to advance in other directions.
Also in August 1939 a pact was signed in the Kremlin which opened the flood
gates for the Second World War, as a result of which the USSR became a
super-power. In August 1945 the Soviet Union carried out a treacherous
attack on Japan and Manchuria. In the course of three weeks of intensive
operations huge territories roughly equal in area and population to Eastern
Europe were `liberated'. In August 1961 the Soviet Union built the Berlin
Wall, in violation of international agreements it had signed. In August 1968
the Soviet Army `liberated' Czechoslovakia and, to its great surprise, did
not meet with any opposition from the West. Suppose the Soviet Communists
again choose August for starting a war....
On 12 August, at 0558 local time, a van comes to a halt on the vast
empty parking lot in front of a supermarket in Washington. Three men open
the doors of the van, roll out the fuselage of a light aircraft and attach
its wings. A minute later its motor bursts into life. The plane takes off
and disappears into the sky. It has no pilot. It is controlled by radio with
the aid of very simple instruments, only slightly more complicated than
those used by model aircraft enthusiasts. The plane climbs to about 200
metres and immediately begins to descend in the direction of the White
House. A minute later a mighty explosion shakes the capital of the United
States. The screaming of sirens on police cars, fire engines and ambulances
fills the city.
Three minutes later a second plane sweeps across the centre of the city
and there is a second explosion in the place where the White House once
stood. The second plane has taken off from a section of highway under
construction, and has a quite different control system. Two cars with radio
beacons in them have been left earlier in the middle of the city. The
beacons have switched on automatically a few seconds before the plane's
take-off. The automatic pilot is guided by the two beacons and starts to
descend according to a previously worked-out trajectory. The second plane
has been sent off by a second group operating independently of the first
It was a simple plan: if the first plane did not destroy the White
House the second would. If the first plane did destroy the White House then
a few minutes later all the heads of the Washington police would be near
where the explosion had taken place. The second plane would kill many of
At 0606 all radio and television channels interrupt their normal
programmes and report the destruction of the White House and the possible
death of the President of the United States.
At 0613 the programme known as Good Morning America is interrupted and
the Vice-President of the USA appears. He announces a staggering piece of
news: there has been an attempt to seize power in the country on the part of
the leaders of the armed forces. The President of the United States has been
killed. The Vice-President appeals to everyone in the armed forces to remain
where they are and not to carry out any orders from senior officers for the
next twenty-four hours, because the orders would be issued by traitors
shortly to be removed from their posts and arrested.
Soon afterwards many television channels across the country cease
The Soviet military leaders know that if it doesn't prove possible to
destroy the President of the United States in peacetime, it will be
practically impossible to do so at a time of crisis. The President will be
in an underground, or airborne, command post, somewhere extremely
inaccessible and extremely well guarded.
Consequently the leaders, while not abandoning attempts to kill the
President (for which purpose several groups of assassins with every kind of
weapon, including anti-aircraft missiles, have been dropped in the country),
decide to carry out an operation aimed at causing panic and confusion. If it
proves impossible to kill the President then they will have to reduce his
capacity to rule the country and its armed forces at the most critical
To carry out this task the Soviets have secretly transferred to
Washington a spetsnaz company from the first spetsnaz regiment at the
strategic level. A large part of the company is made up of women. The entire
complement of the company is professional athletes of Olympic standard. It
has taken several months to transfer the whole company to Washington. The
athletes have arrived in the guise of security men, drivers and technicians
working in the Soviet embassy and other Soviet establishments, and their
weapons and equipment have been brought in in containers covered by
diplomatic privilege. The company has been split into eight groups to carry
out its mission. Each group has its own organisation, structure, weapons and
equipment. To carry out their tasks some of the groups will have to make
contact with secret agents recruited a long time previously by the GRU
On 11 August the GRU rezident in Washington, a major-general known by
the code-name of `Mudry' (officially a civilian and a high-ranking diplomat)
receives an encyphered telegram consisting of one single word -- `Yes'. On
the rezident's orders the spetsnaz company leave their places of work. Some
of them simply go back home. Some are transported secretly in the boots of
their cars by GRU officers and dropped in the woods round the city, in empty
underground garages and other secluded places.
The group commanders gather their groups together in previously agreed
places and set about carrying out their tasks.
Group No. 1 consists of three men and the group is backed up by one
secret agent. The agent works as a mechanic at an airport. In his spare time
he builds flying models of aircraft of various sizes. This particular model
was designed by the best Soviet aircraft designers and put together in
America from spares bought in the open market. The agent himself does not
play any part in the operation. A van containing a light radio-guided
aircraft and its separate wings has been standing in his garage for some
months. What the aircraft is for and to whom it belongs the agent does not
know. He only knows that someone has the keys to the garage and that that
person can at any moment come and take the van along with the aircraft. In
the middle of the night the spetsnaz group drives the van out into the
forest where they take the explosive charges from a secret hiding place and
prepare the plane for flight. At dawn the van is standing in the deserted
Group No. 2 is doing roughly the same at that time. But this group has
three agents working for it, two of whom have left their cars with radio
beacons parked in precisely defined spots in the centre of the city.
Group No. 3 consists of fifteen spetsnaz men and five experts from the
REB osnaz. They are all wearing police uniforms. At night the group kidnaps
the director of a television company and his family. Leaving the family at
home as hostages guarded by three spetsnaz men, the rest of the group make
their way to the studios, capturing two more highly placed officials on
their way, also as hostages, but without giving cause for noise or panic
among the staff. Then, with guns threatening them and supervised by Soviet
electronics experts, the director and his assistants insert, instead of the
usual advertising programme, a video cassette which the commander of the
group has given him. The video cassette has been made up in advance in the
Soviet Union. The role of the Vice-President is played by an actor.
The Soviet high command knows that it is very difficult to cut into
American military channels. If it is at all possible, then at best it will
be possible to do no more than overhear conversations or interrupt them. It
is practically impossible to use them for transmitting false orders at the
strategic level. That is why it is decided to make use of the civilian
television network: it is difficult to get into a television studio, but it
is possible and there are many to choose from. Operations are carried out
simultaneously in several different cities against various TV companies. If
the operation succeeds in only one city it will not matter -- millions of
people will be disoriented at the most critical moment.
The operational plan has provided that, just after the `Vice-President'
has spoken several retransmitters will be destroyed by other spetsnaz groups
and one of the American communication satellites will be shot down `by
mistake' by a Soviet satellite. This is intended to deprive the President
and the real Vice-President of the opportunity to refute the false
But events do not go entirely according to plan. The President succeeds
in addressing the people and issuing a denial of the report. After the
television network throughout America has suffered such major damage, the
radio immediately becomes the principal means of communication. Radio
commentators produce different commentaries about what is happening. The
majority of them report that it is difficult to say which report is genuine
and which was false, but that the only fact about which there is no doubt is
that the White House has been destroyed.
At the moment when all these events are taking place in Washington
another spetsnaz company from the same regiment is ordered by the GRU
rezident in New York to carry out the same operation but on a much larger
scale. They do not make use of radio-guided aircraft, but seize two
television studios and one radio studio which they use for transmitting the
same false report. Five other spetsnaz groups emerge from official Soviet
offices and make open, armed attacks on underground cables and some radio
and TV transmitting and receiving aerials. They manage to damage them and
also some transformer stations, as a result of which millions of TV screens
A few hours later spetsnaz detachment I-M-7 of 120 men lands in New
York harbour from a freighter sailing under a Liberian flag. Using its
fire-power the detachment makes its way to the nearest subway station and,
splitting into small groups and seizing a train with hostages, sets about
destroying the underground communications of the city.
In the area around the berths of America's huge aircraft-carriers and
nuclear submarines in Norfolk, several mini-subs are discovered, as well as
underwater saboteurs with aqualungs.
In Alaska eighteen different places are recorded where small groups
have tried to land from Soviet naval vessels, submarines and aircraft. Some
of the groups have been destroyed as they landed, others have managed to get
back to their ships or, after landing successfully, hidden in the forests.
Spetsnaz detachment I-S-7 consisting of eighty-two men lands on the
coast of Mexico, immediately commandeers private cars, and the next night,
using their fire-power and new mobility, cross the United States border.
Small spetsnaz groups land and use routes and methods employed by
illegal immigrants, while others make use of paths and methods used by drug
Islands and the military installations on them are more vulnerable to
sabotage operations, and at the same moment spetsnaz groups are landing on
Okinawa and Guam, on Diego Garcia, in Greenland and dozens of other islands
on which the West has bases.
Spetsnaz group 2-S-13 has spent three weeks aboard a small Soviet
fishing vessel fishing close to the shores of Ireland. On receiving the
signal `393939' the ship's captain gives the order to cut the nets, switch
off the radio, radar and navigation lights and set course at top speed for
the shores of Great Britain.
In darkness two light speed-boats are lowered from the side of the
ship. They are big enough to take the whole group. In the first boat is the
group commander, a lieutenant with the code-name of `Shakespeare', a radio
operator, a machine-gunner and two snipers. In the second boat is the deputy
group commander, a junior lieutenant with the code-name `Poet', two soldiers
with flame-throwers and two snipers. Each man has a supply of food for three
days, which is supposed to be used only in the event of being pursued for a
long period. For general purposes the group has to obtain its food
independently, as best it can. The group also includes two huge German
After landing the group the little fishing vessel, still without lights
or radio, puts out into the open sea. The ship's captain is hoping to hide
away in a neutral port in Ireland. If the vessel is stopped at sea by a
British naval patrol the captain and his crew have nothing to fear: the
dangerous passengers have left the fishing boat and all traces of their
presence on it have already been removed.
`Shakespeare's' group lands on a tiny beach close to Little Haven. The
landing place has been chosen long ago, and very well chosen: the beach is
shut in on three sides by huge cliffs, so that even in daytime it is
impossible to see from a distance what is going on on the beach itself.
At the same time as `Shakespeare' four other spetsnaz groups are going
ashore in different places two or three kilometres apart. Operating
independently of each other, these four groups arrive by different routes at
the little village of Brawdy and at 3.30 in the morning they make a
simultaneous attack from different directions on a large building belonging
to the United States Navy. According to reports received by the GRU,
hundreds, and possibly thousands, of acoustic listening posts have been set
up in the region of the Atlantic Ocean. The underwater cables from these
posts come together at Brawdy where hundreds of American experts analyse
with the aid of a computer a huge amount of information about the movement
of submarines and surface ships all over the North Atlantic. According to
the GRU's information similar establishments have been set up in Antigua in
the Azores, in Hofn and Keflavik in Iceland, in Hawaii and on Guam. The
GRU's commanding officers are aware that their information about Brawdy may
not be accurate. But the decision has been taken to attack and destroy the
Brawdy monitoring station and all the others as well. The four attacking
groups have been given the task of killing as many as possible of the
technical staff of the station and of destroying as much as possible of the
electronic apparatus, and everything that will burn must be burnt. Mines
must be laid at the approaches to the building. All four groups can then
depart in different directions.
The `Shakespeare' group takes no part in the raid. Its task, beginning
with the following night, is to lay the mines at the approaches to the
building. Apart from that, with sniper fire and open attacks, the group has
to make it difficult for anyone to attempt to save or restore the station.
The group commander knows that the four neighbouring groups which are taking
part in the attack are nearby and are doing the same. But the group
commander does not know everything. He does not know that spetsnaz
detachment 2-S-2, under the command of a major known as `Uncle Kostya', has
landed in the area of St David's. Detachment 2-S-2 consists of fifty-six
men, fifteen lightweight motorcycles and six small cars with a considerable
supply of ammunition. The detachment's task is to move rapidly, using
secondary and forest roads and in some cases even the main roads, and reach
the Forest of Dean to organise a base there. The Forest of Dean is a
wonderful place for spetsnaz operations. It is a hilly area covered with
dense forest. At one time it was an important industrial region. There are
still the remains of the abandoned coal mines and quarries and railway
tunnels, although it is a long time since there was any railway there. Once
firmly established in that forest `Uncle Kostya' can strike out in any
direction: nearby there is a nuclear power station, the Severn bridge, a
railway tunnel beneath the river Severn, the port of Bristol, the GCHQ
government communications centre at Cheltenham, very important military
factories also at Bristol and a huge munitions dump at Welford. The GRU
believes that it is somewhere in this area that the Royal Family would be
sent in the event of war, and that would be a very important target.
The four spetsnaz groups which have taken part at the outset in the
operation against Brawdy depart immediately after the attack and make their
different ways to the Forest of Dean where they can join up with Uncle
Kostya's detachment. Shakespeare knows nothing about this. The large-scale
raid on Brawdy and Shakespeare's continued activity in the following days
and nights ought to give the enemy the impression that this is one of the
main areas of operation for spetsnaz.
Meanwhile spetsnaz group 2-C-41, of twelve men, has been landed at
night near the port of Felixstowe from the catamaran Double Star. The boat
is sailing under the Spanish flag. The group has left the catamaran in the
open sea and swum ashore in aqualungs. There it has been met by a spetsnaz
agent recruited some years previously. He has at the GRU's expense bought a
small motorcycle shop, and his shop has always had available at least
fifteen Japanese motorcycles all ready for the road, along with several sets
of leather jackets, trousers and crash helmets. The group (containing some
of the best motorcyclists in the Soviet Union) changes its clothes, its
weapons are wrapped in tarpaulin, the spetsnaz agent and his family are
killed and their bodies hidden in the cellar of their house, and the
motorcycle gang then rushes off at a great speed along the A45 in the
direction of Mildenhall. Its task is to set up automatic Strela-Blok
anti-aircraft missiles in the area of the base and knock out one of the most
important American air bases in Europe, used regularly by F-111s. Afterwards
the group is to make for the nearest forest and link up with spetsnaz
The group commander does not know that at the same time and not far
away from him ten other spetsnaz groups, each working independently, are
carrying out similar operations against the American military bases at
Woodbridge, Bentwaters and Lakenheath.
The motor yacht Maria was built in Italy. In the course of a decade she
has changed owners several times and visited the oceans of the world until
she was sold to some wealthy person, after which she has not been seen for
several years in any port in the world. But when the international situation
takes a turn for the worse the Maria appears in the North Sea sailing under
a Swedish flag. After some modernisation the appearance of the yacht has
changed somewhat. On receiving the signal `393939' the Maria travels at full
speed towards the coast of Great Britain. When it is inside British
territorial waters and within range of Fylingdales Moor the yacht's crew
removes hatch covers to reveal two BM-23 Katusha-like multi-barrelled
missile-launchers. The sailors quickly aim the weapon at the gigantic
spheres and fire. Seventy-two heavy shells explode around the installation,
causing irreparable harm to the early warning system. The sailors on the
yacht put on their aqualungs and jump overboard. For two hours the yacht
drifts close to the shore without a crew. When the police clamber aboard,
she explodes and sinks.
For operations against NATO forces in Central Europe the Soviet high
command has concentrated an immensely powerful collection of forces
consisting of the 1st and 2nd Western Fronts in East Germany, the 3rd
Western Front in Poland, the Central Front in Czechoslovakia and the Group
of Tank Armies in Belorussia. This makes fifteen armies altogether,
including the six tank armies. On the right flank of this collection of
forces there is the combined Baltic Fleet. And deep in Soviet territory
another five fronts are being built up (fifteen armies altogether) for
On 12 August at 2300 hours spetsnaz battalions drawn from the seven
armies of the first echelon cross the frontier of Western Germany on
motorised hang-gliders, ordinary gliders and gliding parachutes. Operating
in small groups, each battalion strikes at the enemy's radar installations,
concentrating its efforts on a relatively narrow sector so as to create a
sort of corridor for its planes to fly through. Apart from these seven
corridors, another one of strategic importance is created. It was for this
purpose that back in July the 13th spetsnaz brigade arrived in East Germany
from the Moscow military district on the pretext that it was a military
construction unit and based itself in the Thuringer Wald. The brigade is now
split into sixty groups scattered about the forests of the Spessart and
Odenwald hills, and faced with the task of destroying the anti-aircraft
installations, especially the radar systems. In the first wave there are
altogether 130 spetsnaz groups dropped with a total of some 3300 troops.
Two hours after the men have been dropped, the Soviet air force carries
out a mass night raid on the enemy's anti-aircraft installations. The
combined blow struck by the air force and spetsnaz makes it possible to
clear one large and several smaller corridors through the anti-aircraft
defence system. These corridors are used immediately for another mass air
attack and a second drop of spetsnaz units.
Simultaneously, advance detachments of the seven armies cross the
frontier and advance westwards.
At 0330 hours on 13 August the second wave of spetsnaz forces is
dropped from Aeroflot aircraft operating at very low heights with heavy
The Central Front drops its spetsnaz brigade in the heavily wooded
mountains near Freiburg. The brigade's job is to destroy the important
American, West German and French headquarters, lines of communication,
aircraft on the ground and anti-aircraft defences. This brigade is, so to
speak, opening the gates into France, into which will soon burst several
fronts and a further wave of spetsnaz.
The 1st and 2nd Western Fronts drop their spetsnaz brigades in Germany
to the west of the Rhine. This part of West Germany is the furthest away
from the dangerous eastern neighbour and consequently all the most
vulnerable targets are concentrated there: headquarters, command posts,
aerodromes, nuclear weapon stores, colossal reserves of military equipment,
ammunition and fuel.
The spetsnaz brigade of the 1st Western Front is dropped in the Aachen
area. Here there are several large forests where bases can be organised and
a number of very tempting targets: bridges across the Rhine which would be
used for bringing up reserves and supplying the NATO forces fighting to the
east of the Rhine, the important air bases of Bruggen and Wildenrath, the
residence of the German government and West Germany's civil service in Bonn,
important headquarters near München-Gladbach, and the Geilenkirchen air base
where the E-3A early-warning aircraft are based. It is in this area that the
Soviet high command plans to bring into the battle the 20th Guards Army,
which is to strike southwards down the west bank of the Rhine. The spetsnaz
brigade is busy clearing the way for the columns of tanks which are soon to
The spetsnaz brigade of the 2nd Western Front has been dropped in the
Kaiserslautern area with the task of neutralising the important air base and
the air force command posts near Ramstein and Zweibrücken and of destroying
the nuclear weapons stores at Pirmasens. The place where the brigade has
been dropped is where, according to the plan of the Soviet high command, the
two arms of the gigantic pincer movement are to close together: the 20th
Guards Army advancing from the north and the 8th Guards Tank Army striking
from Czechoslovakia in the direction of Karlsruhe. After this the second
strategic echelon will be brought into action to inflict a crushing defeat
At the same time the Soviet high command inderstands that to win the
war it has to prevent the large-scale transfer of American troops, arms and
equipment to Western Europe. To solve the problem the huge Soviet Northern
Fleet will have to be brought out into the Atlantic and be kept supplied
there. The operations of the fleet will have to be backed up by the Air
Force. But for the fleet to get out into the Atlantic it will have to pass
through a long corridor between Norway and Greenland and Iceland. There the
Soviet fleet will be exposed to constant observation and attack by air
forces, small ships and submarines operating out of the fjords and by a huge
collection of radio-electronic instruments and installations.
Norway, especially its southern part, is an exceptionally important
area for the Soviet military leaders. They need to seize southern Norway and
establish air and naval bases there in order to fight a battle for the
Atlantic and therefore for Central Europe. The Soviet high command has
allotted at least one entire front consisting of an airborne division,
considerable naval forces and a brigade of spetsnaz. But airlifting
ammunition, fuel, foodstuffs and reinforcements to the military, air and
naval bases in Norway presents great problems of scale. So there have to be
good and safe roads to the bases in southern Norway. Those roads lie in
In the past Sweden was lucky: she always remained on the sidelines in a
conflict. But at the end of the twentieth century the balance of the
battlefield is changing. Sweden has become one of the most important
strategic points in the world. If war breaks out the path of the aggressor
will lie across Sweden. The occupation of Sweden is made easier by the fact
that there are no nuclear weapons on its territory, so that the Soviet
leaders risk very little. They know, however, that the Swedish soldier is a
very serious opponent -- thoughtful, disciplined, physically strong and
tough, well armed, well acquainted with the territory he will have to fight
over, and well trained for action in such terrain. The experience of the war
against Finland teaches that in Scandinavia frontal attacks with tanks do
not produce brilliant results. It requires the use of special tactics and
special troops: spetsnaz.
And so it goes on, all over the world. In Sweden the capital city in
reduced to a state of panic by the murder of several senior government
figures and arson and bombing attacks on key buildings and ordinary
civilians. In Japan, American nuclear bases are destroyed and chemical
weapons used on the seat of government. In Pakistan, a breakaway movement in
Baluchistan province, instantly recognised by the Soviet Communist Party,
asks for and receives direct military intervention from the USSR to protect
its fragile independence: Soviet-controlled territory extends all the way
from Siberia through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean.
It may not even need a third world war for the Soviet Union to occupy
Baluchistan. The Red Army may be withdrawing from Afghanistan, but knowing
what we know about Soviet strategy and the uses to which spetsnaz can be
put, such a withdrawal can be seen as a useful public relations exercise
without hindering the work of spetsnaz in any way. With a spetsnaz presence
in Baluchistan, the Politburo could be reaching very close to the main oil
artery of the world, to the Arab countries, to Eastern and Southern Africa,
to Australia and South-east Asia: territories and oceans that are
Appendix A-D Skipped (diagrams)
The part the Soviet athletes play
Below are a number of examples of the very close relationship between
the sporting and military achievements of Soviet athletes.
Vladimir Myagkov. In the Soviet ski championships in 1939 Myagkov put
up an exceptionally good time over the 20-kilometre distance, and became
Soviet champion at that distance. During the war he was called into the Army
and put in charge of a small unit of athletes which came directly under the
Intelligence directorate of the front. He was later killed in fighting
behind enemy lines. He was the first of the top Soviet athletes to be made a
Hero of the Soviet Union, in his case posthumously. The tasks that Myagkov's
sports unit was carrying out, the circumstances of his death and the act for
which he was made a Hero remain a Soviet state secret to this day.
Porfiri Polosukhin. A Red Army officer before the war, he held world
records at parachute jumping. He had been an instructor training special
troops for operations on enemy territory. During the war he continued to
train parachutists for spetsnaz units of `guard minelayers'. He was often
behind the enemy's lines, and he developed a method of camouflaging
airfields and of communicating with Soviet aircraft from secret partisan
airfields. This original system operated until the end of the war and was
never detected by the enemy, as a result of which connection by air with
partisan units, especially with spetsnaz and osnaz units, was exceptionally
reliable. After the war many a soldier from special troops trained by
Polosukhin became world and European parachute champions.
Dmitri Kositsyn. Before the war he headed the skating department in one
of the State Institutes of Physical Culture. It was supposed to be a
civilian institute, but the teachers and many of the students had military
rank. Kositsyn was a captain and had some notable achievements to his credit
in sport, having established a number of Soviet records. During the war he
commanded a special unit known as `Black Death'. From that `civilian'
institute, in the first week of war alone, thirteen such units were formed.
They engaged in active terrorist work in support of the Red Army, and the
speed with which the units were formed suggests that long before the war all
the members of the units had been carefully screened and trained. Otherwise
they would not have been sent behind the lines. Kositsyn's unit acquired a
name as the most daring and ruthless of all the formations on the Leningrad
Makhmud Umarov. During the Second World War Umarov was a soldier in an
independent spetsnaz mine-laying battalion. He was several times dropped
with a group of men behind enemy lines. He had two professions: he was a
crack shot, and a doctor. After the war he was an officer in the
Intelligence directorate of the Leningrad military district. He continued to
have two professions, and as a doctor-psychiatrist he received an honorary
doctorate for theoretical work. As a crack shot he became European and world
champion; in fact, he was five times European champion and three times world
champion. He won two Olympic silver medals for pistol shooting, in Melbourne
and in Rome. After the resurrection of spetsnaz he served as an officer in
that organisation, where both his professions were valued. Thanks to his
sporting activities Lieutenant-Colonel Umarov visited many countries of the
world and had extensive connections. In 1961 Makhmud Umarov suddenly
disappeared from the medical and sporting scenes. There is some reason to
believe that he died in very strange circumstances.
Yuri Borisovich Chesnokov. A man of unusual physical strength and
endurance, he took part in many kinds of sport. He was particularly
successful at volleyball: twice world champion and Olympic champion.
Chesnokov's physical qualities were noticed very early and as soon as he
finished school he was taken into the Academy of Military Engineering,
although he was not an officer. From that time he was closely involved in
the theory and practice of using explosives. Apart from an Olympic gold
medal he has another gold medal for his work on the technique of causing
explosions. Chesnokov is now a spetsnaz colonel.
Valentin Yakovlevich Kudrevatykh. He joined the para-military DOSAAF
organisation when he was still at school. He took up parachute jumping,
gliding and rifle shooting at the same time. In May 1956 he made his first
parachute jump. Two years later, at the age of eighteen, he had reached a
high level at parachute jumping and shooting. In 1959 he was called into the
army, serving in the airborne forces. In 1961 he set five world records in
one week in parachute sport, for which he was promoted sergeant and sent to
the airborne officers' school in Ryazan. After that he was sent to spetsnaz
and put in command of some special women's units. He had under his command
the most outstanding women athletes, including Antonina Kensitskaya, to whom
he is now married. She has established thirteen world records, her husband
fifteen. He made parachute jumps (often with a women's group) in the most
incredible conditions, landing in the mountains, in forests, on the roofs of
houses and so forth. Kudrevatykh took part in practically all the tests of
new parachute equipment and weapons. Along with a group of professional
women parachutists he took part in the experimental group drop from a
critically low height on 1 March 1968. Then, as he was completing his
5,555th jump, he got into a critical situation. Black humour among Soviet
airborne troops says that, if neither the main nor the reserve parachute
opens, the parachutist still has a whole twenty seconds to learn to fly.
Kudrevatykh did not learn to fly in those last seconds, but he managed with
his body and the unopened parachutes to slow his fall. He spent more than
two years in hospital and went through more than ten operations. When he was
discharged he made his 5,556th jump. Many Soviet military papers published
pictures of that jump. As usual Kudrevatykh jumped in the company of
professional women parachutists. But there are no women in the Soviet
airborne divisions. Only in spetsnaz.
After making that jump Kudrevatykh was promoted full colonel.
The Spetsnaz Intelligence Point (RP-SN)
Imagine that you have graduated from the 3rd faculty (operational
intelligence) of the Military-Diplomatic Academy of the General Staff. If
you have passed out successfully you will be sent to one of the twenty
Intelligence directorates (RUs), which are to be found in the headquarters
of military districts, groups of forces and fleets.
On the first day I spent at the Military-Diplomatic Academy I realised
that diplomacy is espionage and that military diplomacy is military
espionage. Successful completion of the 3rd faculty of the
Military-Diplomatic Academy means serving in one of the Intelligence
directorates, or in subordinate units directly connected with the
recruitment of foreign agents and managing them.
Imagine you have been posted to the Intelligence Directorate of the
Kiev military district. Kiev is without doubt the most beautiful city in the
Soviet Union, and I have heard it said more than once by Western journalists
who have visited Kiev that it is the most beautiful city in the world.
So you are now in the enormous building housing the headquarters of the
Kiev military district. At different times all the outstanding military
leaders of the Soviet Union have worked in this magnificent building:
Zhukov, Bagramyan, Vatutin, Koshevoi, Chuikov, Kulikov, Yakubovsky and many
others. The office of the officer commanding the district is on the second
floor. To the right of his office are the massive doors to the Operational
Directorate. To the left are the no less massive doors to the Intelligence
Directorate. It is a symbolic placing: the first directorate (battle
planning) is the commanding officer's right hand, while the second
directorate (razvedka) is his left. There are many other directorates and
departments in the headquarters, but they are all on other floors.
Your first visit to the Intelligence Directorate at the district
headquarters takes place, of course, in the company of one of the officers.
Otherwise you would simply not be admitted.
Before entering the headquarters you must call at the permit office and
produce your authority. You are given a number to phone and an officer comes
to escort you. The permit office examines your documents very carefully and
issues you with a temporary pass. The officer then leads you along endless
corridors and up numerous stairs. You must be ready at every turn to produce
your permit and officer's identity card. Your documents are checked many
times before you reach the district's head of razvedka.
Now you are in the general's huge office. Facing you is a
major-general, the head of razvedka for the Kiev military district. You
introduce yourself to him: `Comrade general, Captain so-and-so reporting for
The general asks you a few questions, and as he talks with you about
trivialities he decides your fate. There are a number of possibilities.
Perhaps he doesn't take to you and so decides not to take you on. You will
be posted to the district Personnel Directorate and will never again have
anything to do with Intelligence work. Or he may like you but not very much.
In that case he will send you for reconnaissance work on lower floors to
serve in a division or regiment. You will be working in razvedka, but not
with the agent network.
If you really please him several paths will be open to you. The
razvedka of a military district is a gigantic organisation with a great deal
of work to do. Firstly, he can post you to the headquarters of one of three
armies to work in the headquarters Intelligence department, where you will
be sent on to an intelligence post (RP) to recruit secret agent-informers to
work for that army.
Secondly, he can leave you in the Intelligence directorate for work in
the second (agent network) or the third (spetsnaz) department. Thirdly, he
can post you to one of the places where the recruitment of foreigners to
work for the Kiev military district is actually taking place. There are two
such places: the Intelligence centre (RZs) and the spetsnaz Intelligence
point (RP spetsnaz).
The general may ask you for your own opinion. Your reply must be short:
for example -- I don't mind where I work, so long as it is not at
headquarters, preferably at recruitment. The general expects that sort of
reply from you. Intelligence has no need of an officer who is not bursting
to do recruiting work. If someone has got into Intelligence work but is not
burning with desire to recruit foreigners, it means he has made a mistake in
his choice of profession. It also means that the people who recommended him
for Intelligence work and spent years training him at the
Military-Diplomatic Academy were also mistaken.
The general asks his final question: what kind of agents do you want to
recruit -- for providing information or for collaborating with spetsnaz?
Every intelligence officer at the front and fleet level must know how to
recruit agents of both kinds. It is, you say, all the same to you.
`All right,' the general says, `I am appointing you an officer in the
spetsnaz Intelligence point of the 3rd department of the Second Directorate
of the headquarters of the Kiev military district. The order will be issued
in writing tomorrow. I wish you well.'
You thank the general for the trust placed in you, salute smartly,
click your heels, and leave the office. The escorting officer awaits you at
the exit. From here, without any permits, you come out into a little
courtyard, where there is always a little prison van waiting. The door slams
behind you and you are in a mousetrap. Facing you is a little opaque window
with a strong grille over it. No use trying to look out. The van twists and
turns round the city's streets, often stopping and changing direction, and
you realise that it is stopping at traffic lights. At last the van drives
through some huge gates and comes to a halt. The door is opened and you step
out into the courtyard of the penal battalion of the Kiev military district.
It is a military prison. Welcome to your new place of work.
The ancient city of Kiev has seen conquerors from all over the world
pass down its streets. Some of them razed the city to the ground; others
fortified it; then a third lot destroyed it again. The fortifications around
the ruined and burnt-out city of Kiev were built for the last time in 1943
on Hitler's orders. On the approaches to Kiev you can come across
fortifications of all ages, from the concrete pillboxes of the twentieth
century to the ruins of walls that were built five hundred years before the
arrival of Batu Khan.
The place you have been brought to is a fort built at the time of
Catherine the Great. It is built on the south-west approaches to the city at
the top of steep cliffs covered with ancient oaks. Alongside are other
forts, an enormous ancient monastery, and an ancient fortress which now
houses a military hospital.
Through the centuries military installations of the most varied kinds
-- stores, barracks, headquarters -- have been built on the most dangerous
approaches to the city and, apart from the basic purpose, they have also
served as fortifications. The fort we have come to also served two purposes:
as a barracks for 500 to 700 soldiers, and as a fort. Circular in shape, its
outside walls used to have only narrow slits and broad embrasures for guns.
These have now all been filled in and the only remaining windows are those
that look into the internal courtyard. The fort has only one gateway, a
well-defended tunnel through the mighty walls. A brick wall has been added
around the fort. From the outside it looks like a high brick wall in a
narrow lane, with yet another brick wall, higher than the first one, behind
Both the inner and outer courtyards of the fort are split up into
numerous sectors and little yards divided by smaller walls and a whole
jungle of barbed wire. The sectors have their own strange labels: the
numbering has been so devised that no one should be able to discern any
logic in it. The absence of any system facilitates the secrecy surrounding
There are three companies of men undergoing punishment and one guard
company in the penal battalion. The men in the guard company have only a
very vague idea of who visits the battalion and why. They have only their
instructions which have to be carried out: the men undergoing punishment can
be only in the inner courtyard in certain sectors; officers who have a
triangle stamped in their passes are allowed into certain other sectors;
officers with a little star stamped in their passes are allowed to enter
other sectors; and so forth.
Apart from the officers of the penal battalion, frequent callers at the
fort are officers of the military prosecutor's office, the military
commandant of the city, and officers of the commandant's office:
investigators, lawyers. And there is a sector set aside for you. The
spetsnaz intelligence point has no connection at all with the penal
battalion. But if it were to be situated separately in some building, sooner
or later people in the vicinity would be struck by the suspicious behaviour
of the people occupying the building. Here in the penal battalion you are
hidden from curious eyes.
The spetsnaz intelligence point is a small military unit headed by a
lieutenant-colonel, who has under him a number of officers, graduates from
the Military-Diplomatic Academy, and a few sergeants and privates who carry
out support functions without having any idea (or the correct idea) of what
the officers are engaged on. Officers of the penal battalion and those
visiting the battalion are not supposed to ask what goes on in your sector.
Many years back one of your predecessors appeared to allow himself the
luxury of `careless talk', to the effect that his was a group reporting
directly to the officer commanding the district and investigating cases of
corruption among the senior officers. This is sufficient to ensure that you
are treated with respect and not asked any more questions.
Its location in the penal battalion gives the spetsnaz point a lot of
advantages: behind such enormous walls, the command can be sure that your
documents will not get burnt or lost by accident; it is under the strictest
guard, with dozens of guard dogs and machine-guns mounted in towers to
preserve your peace of mind; no outsider interested in what is going on
inside the walls will ever get a straight answer; the independent
organisation does not attract the attention of higher-ranking Soviet
military leaders who are not supposed to know about GRU and spetsnaz; and
even if an outsider knows something about you he cannot distinguish spetsnaz
officers from among the other officers visiting the old fort.
Spetsnaz has at its disposal a number of prison vans exactly the same
as those belonging to the penal battalion and with similar numbers. They are
very convenient for bringing any person of interest to us into or out of
your fort at any time. What is good about the prison van is that neither the
visitor nor outsiders can work out exactly where the spetsnaz point is. A
visitor can be invited to any well guarded place where there are usually
plenty of people (the headquarters, commandant's office, police station) and
then secretly brought in a closed van to the old fort, and returned in the
same way so that he gets lost in the crowd. Fortunately there are several
such forts in the district.
A penal battalion, that is to say a military prison, is a favourite
place for the GRU to hide its branches in. There are other kinds of
camouflage as well -- design bureaux, missiles bases, signals centres -- but
they all have one feature in common: a small, secret organisation is
concealed within a large, carefully guarded military establishment.
In addition to its main premises where the safes crammed with secret
papers are kept, the spetsnaz Intelligence point has several secret
apartments and small houses on the outskirts of the city.
Having found yourself in the place I have described, you are met by an
unhappy-looking lieutenant-colonel who has probably spent his whole working
life at this work. He gives you a brief order: `You wear uniform only inside
the fort and if you are called to the district headquarters. The rest of the
time you wear civilian clothes.'
`I understand, comrade lieutenant-colonel.'
`But there's nothing for you to do here in the fort and even less in
the headquarters. This is my place, not yours. I don't need any bureaucrats;
I need hunters. Go off and come back in a month's time with material on a
good foreign catch.'
`Do you know the territories our district will be fighting on in a
`Yes, I do.'
`Well, I need another agent there who could meet up with a spetsnaz
group in any circumstances. I am giving you a month because you are just
beginning your service, but the time-scale will be stricter later on. Off
you go, and remember that you have got a lot of rivals in Kiev: the friends
of yours who have already joined the Intelligence point are probably active
in the city, the KGB is also busy, and goodness knows who else is recruiting
here. And remember -- you can slip up only once in our business. I shall
never overlook a mistake, and neither will spetsnaz. In wartime you are shot
for making a mistake. In peacetime you land in prison. You know which
That was what Kiev was like before the Chernobyl disaster. For hundreds
of years barbarians from many of the countries of Asia and Europe had been
doing their best to destroy my great city, but nobody inflicted such damage
on it as did the Communists. The history of nuclear energy in the Soviet
Union is one -- very long -- story of crime. The founding father of the
development of nuclear energy was Lavrenti Beria, the all-powerful chief of
the secret police and, as later became apparent, one of the greatest
criminals of the twentieth century. The majority of the Soviet ministers,
designers and engineers connected with the development of nuclear energy
were kept in prisons, and not only in Stalin's time. All nuclear plants are
built with prison labour. I have personally seen thousands of convicts
working in the uranium mines in the Kirovograd region. (See V. Suvorov,
Aquarium). The convicts have no incentive whatsoever to turn out good
Sooner or later this was bound to end in disaster. The paper
Literaturnaya Ukraina1 reported on the criminal attitude to construction
work and the use of defective materials and obsolete technology at
Chernobyl. The paper issued a warning that several generations of people
would have to pay for the irresponsible attitude of the people in charge of
the building work. But nobody paid any attention to this article or others
like it; a month later the catastrophe took place.
1 27 March 1986.