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Operation Anadyr

Operation Anadyr
Date 1962
Location Cuba
Result Cuban Missile Crisis
(no combat took place)  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Issa Pliyev
Georgy Abashvili
47,000 troops,
three R-12 missile regiments,
two R-14 missile regiments

Operation Anadyr (Russian: «Анадырь») was the code name used by the Soviet Union for their Cold War (1962) secret operation of deploying ballistic missiles, medium-range bombers, and a division of mechanized infantry in Cuba to create the army group that would be able to prevent an invasion of the island by U.S. forces.[1] The overall plan (after adjustment) was to deploy approximately 60,000 personnel in support of the main missile force consisting of three R-12 missile regiments and two R-14 missile regiments. However, part of it would be foiled by its discovery by the US, prompting the Cuban Missile Crisis.


  • Motivations 1
  • Initial deployment plan and reinforcements 2
  • Transport and actual deployment 3
  • Soviet denial and deception in Operation Anadyr 4
    • Soviet military denial and deception 4.1
    • Soviet Diplomatic Denial and Deception 4.2
  • Aftermath of Operation Anadyr 5
  • Operation Kama 6
  • References 7
    • Bibliography 7.1
  • External links 8


A Jupiter surface emplacement similar to the ones in Turkey

According to Khrushchev's memoirs, he and his defense minister Rodion Malinovsky were walking on a Black Sea beach in April 1962, discussing the threat posed by the short flight time of the US Jupiter missiles deployed in Turkey (which needed about 10 minutes to land in the USSR) as well as the warhead disparity between the Soviet Union and the West when the idea of deploying missiles to Cuba took root in Khrushchev's mind as way to compensate these disadvantages. As Khrushchev put it prosaically, he saw the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba as "putting one of our hedgehogs down the Americans’ trousers".[2]

Initial deployment plan and reinforcements

The initial deployment plan of Operation Anadyr was drafted by general Anatoly Gribkov and two of his assistants sometimes after the 21 May meeting of the Soviet Defense Council in which Khrushchev's basic idea was discussed and approved.[2] Gribkov's plan included a main missile force of five regiments: three armed with R-12 medium range missiles and two armed with R-14 intermediate range missiles, each regiment equipped with eight launchers and 1.5 missiles per launcher.[2] Defending and in support of these, the plan called for:

  • two regiments of FKR-1 cruise missiles equipped with 16 launchers and 80 tactical nuclear warheads[2]
  • two antiaircraft divisions[2]
  • a fighter regiment equipped with MiG-21s[2]
  • four motorized rifle regiments, each with its own tank battalion[2]
  • a brigade of twelve missile boats[2]

The total personnel figure for all these forces was 50,874 and it required an estimate of 85 transports to deploy, mostly freighters, but also some passenger liners. Malinovsky approved this deployment plan on July 4 and Khrushchev gave his final approval three days later.[2]

The fighter regiment (40 MiG-21 aircraft) deployed was the 32nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (32 Gv IAP) flying MiG-21F-13s, deployed from Kubinka. The 32nd Regiment was renamed 213th Fighter Aviation Regiment during the deployment.[3]

On September 4, some of the surface-to-air antiaircraft missiles and missile boats (which deployed ahead of the main missile force) were spotted by US reconnaissance flights and Kennedy issued a warning. In reply to this Khrushchev approved some reinforcements:[2][4]

  • six Il-28 bombers with six 407H nuclear bombs (total) at their disposal[2]
  • three Luna battalions equipped with 12 901 A4 nuclear warheads (total)[2]

Since the main missile force had not yet been dispatched, these reinforcements would be shipped along with it.[2]

Transport and actual deployment

Troops were transferred by 86 ships, that conducted 180 voyages from ports at Baltiysk, Liepāja, Sevastopol, Feodosiya, Nikolaev, Poti, Murmansk, and Kronstadt.

Oleg Penkovsky, a double agent in the GRU working for CIA and MI6 provided details of the missile placements.[5]

A Lockheed KH-5 Argon reconnaissance satellite was launched on October 9 at 18:58:00 UTC from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Then, on October 14 photographs were taken by a Lockheed U-2. On October 16 the president and military command were informed of the presence of Soviet missiles on Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis started.[1]

Range of Soviet Medium- and Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles Deployed to Cuba

Soviet denial and deception in Operation Anadyr

Operation Anadyr certainly was a missile and troop deployment, but it also involved a complex denial and deception campaign. The Soviet attempt to position nuclear weapons on the island nation of Cuba in Operation Anadyr occurred under a shroud of great secrecy, both to deny the United States information on the deployment of these missiles to the island and deceive the United States' political leadership, military, and intelligence services on Moscow's intentions in Cuba. The parameters of Anadyr demanded that both medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles be deployed to Cuba and operable before their existence was discovered by the United States, and the Soviet General Staff and the Soviet political leadership turned to radical measures to achieve surprise in this manner.

Soviet military denial and deception

Perhaps the most fundamental deception in Operation Anadyr was the deployment's codename itself. "Anadyr" would suggest anything but a movement of Soviet troops to the Caribbean to an American intelligence analyst poring over intercepted Soviet military communications. The Anadyr, in fact, is a river which flows into the Bering Sea, and it is also the name of the capital of a district in the USSR and a remote bomber base, both in the far north of the Soviet Union. Both the American analyst and the lowly Soviet soldier, prone to start rumors and leak information, surely would have expected the upcoming operation to be a military exercise in the northern vastness of the USSR.[6]

In the early planning stages of Operation Anadyr, only five senior officers on the General Staff were privy to the details of the deployment or its actual location. All the planning was done by Colonel General Ivanov, General Anatoly Gribkov, Lieutenant General Mikhail I. Povaliy, Major General Yeliseyev, and Colonel Kotov. These five officers alone prepared the every last feature of the enterprise, enough work to keep scores of staff busy for weeks, but so stringent was the demand for secrecy, no one else was allowed into this small coterie. The plans that were made even were handwritten to deny knowledge of the operation to even a single secretary.[7]

The logistical preparations for Anadyr were equally covert. Men and materiel were moved by railway to four northern ports and four on the Black Sea. Foreigners were barred from the ports during this period, but regardless, most loading occurred under the cover of darkness. Troops awaiting the voyage were restricted to barracks prior to departure and were denied contact with the outside world. The same restrictions were placed on the sailors of the transport ships. During the wait, Soviet soldiers kept busy by constructing false superstructures with plywood to hide the ships' defenses and even on-deck field kitchens. Metal sheets were placed over missiles and missile launchers, which were too large to be stored below decks on most vessels, to prevent detection by infrared surveillance. Other military equipment was stored below decks. Agricultural equipment and other non-military machinery was placed on deck to add to the subterfuge. Once underway, the Soviet troops were not allowed on deck, except at night and only in small groups.[8]

Instructions to the troops and ships' crews were carried by special couriers to deny Western intelligence services the opportunity to intercept electronic communications regarding the operation. The ships' captains received their instructions, which revealed their final destination, only after they had put out to sea. The instructions were given to them by a KGB officer aboard who had been entrusted with the envelope prior to departure. Every vessel carried thick folders of information on various countries for the officers aboard to review. Only after the destination was revealed were they specifically instructed to study Cuba.[8]

Soviet denial and deception measures were equally rigid upon the ships' arrival in Cuba. The Soviet vessels unloaded at eleven different ports to complicate adversarial surveillance. While non-military equipment was unloaded in broad daylight, materiel with obvious military qualities was offloaded only under the cover of darkness and transported to its end destination after nightfall as well. The same applied to major troop movements, and all Soviet military positions were generally in sparsely populated areas of the island. The Soviet troops were even forbidden to wear their uniforms further to make a Soviet military presence deniable. Instead, they wore civilian attire. Simultaneously, the Soviet media trumpeted the massive agricultural assistance that the Soviets ostensibly were providing to their Cuban comrades as a false explanation for the men and equipment.[9]

Soviet Diplomatic Denial and Deception

The Soviets employed an equally dazzling array of diplomatic ruses to maintain the guise over their activities in Cuba. First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev embarked on a tour of the Soviet Republics in Central Asia during much of the duration of Anadyr. During this time, Khrushchev explicitly avoided all hostile references to the United States.[10]

The Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin was a primary instrument in transmitting the diplomatic assurances that only defensive weaponry was being supplied to Cuba. On September 4, 1962, for instance, the Ambassador personally asked Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to inform President John F. Kennedy that no ballistic missiles or other offensive armaments had been transported to Cuba. Dobrynin was repeating a message from Khrushchev himself. Later, Dobrynin would again deny the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.[10][11][12]

Equally, a KGB officer, Lockheed U-2 surveillance aircraft, of Soviet ballistic missiles on Cuban soil.[13]

The Soviet media was also complicit in transmitting disinformation about Soviet intentions in Cuba to the world's political leaders and public. On September 11, the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union claimed that the Soviet Union was supplying exclusively defensive weaponry to Cuba to deter American aggression and that the USSR had no need to site offensive weapons outside of its own soil. Pravda even censored elements of a speech made by Fidel Castro which hinted at an ability to strike the American homeland from Cuba.[10][14]

Kennedy was not the only president that the Soviets attempted to deceive. Incredibly, they also fed false information to the Cuban Communists, overemphasizing the American threat to Cuba, to persuade them to allow Soviet nuclear weapons to be deployed to the island. Cuban political leadership, especially Fidel Castro, and the Cuban intelligence services received falsified reports from their Soviet counterparts on the nature and extent of the American menace. Khrushchev so adamantly desired to affect the strategic nuclear balance between the two superpowers that he attempted to deceive his Cuban proxies so that, in turn, they would unquestioningly allow Soviet ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads to be placed on Cuban soil. The Soviet KGB first began doctoring information and transmitting it to the Cubans in 1961 and continued to do so through the Cuban Missile Crisis. Soviet diplomatic warnings began soon thereafter. Khrushchev himself emphasized the American threat in conversations with Castro and Castro's deputies and personally proposed the deployment of Soviet missiles to Cuba in the late spring of 1962, a proposal which was soon accepted.[15][16]

Some non-Soviets, however, were privy to accurate information regarding both the American threat and Soviet intentions. Amazingly, the KGB waged a deception campaign in support of Anadyr which included feeding partially or even wholly correct information to the Cuban émigré community in Miami, Florida. The Soviets knew the information from Cuban exile organizations was perceived by the American intelligence services to be highly unreliable. They assumed correctly that the Americans would discount such warnings as blatant falsehoods that the Cuban émigrés hoped would prompt an American invasion of Cuba and overthrow of the existing regime.[17][18][19] This misevaluation was bitterly remembered by the Cuban exile community in the United States. Cuban expatriates, particularly The Truth About Cuba Committee, later condemned the Kennedy administration for its failure to perceive Soviet activities in Cuba despite accurate reports.[19]

U2 Image of Soviet Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Cuba

Aftermath of Operation Anadyr

The Soviet denial and deception campaign in Operation Anadyr proved highly effective, and the eventual discovery of the missile emplacements, which occurred after they were operational, was almost inevitable. U.S. imagery analysis of the Soviet vessels sailing for Cuba had proven fruitless; no indication that the ships carried anything other than non-military equipment was visible. Some American analysts speculated that some of the larger ships might be carrying nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in their holds, but no definitive evidence existed until those very missiles were already emplaced on Cuban soil.[20] Finally, on October 14, an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft photographed Soviet ballistic missiles on Cuban soil. The President received the images two days later. On October 23, six Vought F-8 Crusader reconnaissance aircraft gathered clearer images from a lower level as definitive proof to the world of the deployment of Soviet nuclear weapons to Cuba. The following morning, President Kennedy authorized the blockade which began the actual Crisis.[21]

Operation Kama

Submarine B-59 after being forced to the surface, with a US Navy helicopter circling overhead.
28–29 October 1962

A part of Operation Anadyr was Operation Kama, a plan to forward-base seven Soviet ballistic missile submarines in Mariel, Cuba, much like the United States bases ballistic missile submarines in Holy Loch, Scotland. The operation began on October 1, 1962 with the departure of four diesel-electric attack submarines to the Caribbean Sea to clear the way. All four submarines were Project 641 boats, known to NATO as the "Foxtrot" class. The boats were the B-4, known as Chelyabinski Komsomolets, the B-36, the B-59, and the B-130.

Kama failed independently of Anadyr; with none of the ballistic missile submarines ever reaching Cuba. All four of the attack submarines were detected by the blockade of Cuba in the Sargasso Sea and followed closely by American destroyers and ASW aircraft. (Some of the destroyer crews harassed the Soviet submarines by dropping hand grenades overboard, which did no harm to the boats but made it clear that depth charges could follow at any time, although one submarine had its rudder damaged and had to be towed back to the USSR.) The first was B-130, forced to the surface for repairs to its diesel engines. All three had failed, with factory defects being cited as the cause.[22] After the first contact, ASW efforts converged on the region and all three remaining submarines were detected. The after-action report prepared by USSR Northern Fleet Headquarters credits the destroyer Charles P. Cecil with the detection and pursuit of B-36, and the detection and pursuit of B-59 to a multitude of destroyers and carrier-launched planes. Submarine B-4 was detected by anti-submarine aircraft, but was the only one to have freshly recharged accumulator batteries. Because of this, it was able to remain submerged until the pursuing destroyers were evaded. All of the Soviet submarines experienced a wide range of equipment failures, with failing cooling systems and damage to the ship itself. Anatoly Petrovich Andreyev's diary entries describe conditions of constant dehydration and sweating in temperatures ranging from 37 °C to 57 °C, and infected rashes due to lack of water for hygiene were reported in 100% of personnel.[23] Even the onboard freezer was overwhelmed, compromising much of the onboard food supply. Partial surfacing was used in an attempt to alleviate the problem, which posed an even greater chance of detection. Operation Kama ended ignominiously, with three submarines forced into surfacing within visual range of American ships and the fourth unable to do anything beyond avoid capture.


  1. ^ a b Great Russian Encyclopedia (2005), Moscow: Bol'shaya Rossiyskaya Enciklopediya Publisher, vol. 1, p. 649
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Barlow (2007), pp. 157–159
  3. ^
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Zubok & Pleshkov (1996), p. 264
  6. ^ Hansen (2002), p. 50
  7. ^ Gribkov & Smith (1994), p. 24
  8. ^ a b Hansen (2002), pp. 52–53
  9. ^ Gribkov & Smith (1994), pp. 38–40
  10. ^ a b c Hansen (2002), p. 56
  11. ^ Schecter & Deriabin (1992), p. 330
  12. ^ Garthoff (1989), p. 29
  13. ^ Andrew & Gordievsky (1990), pp. 470–473
  14. ^ Garthoff (1989), pp. 25, 30
  15. ^ Amuchastegui (1998), pp. 97, 99–100
  16. ^ Hansen (2002), pp. 51–52
  17. ^ Hansen (2002), p. 55
  18. ^ Amuchastegui (1998), p. 101
  19. ^ a b Manrara (1968), p. 45
  20. ^ Hansen (2002), p. 52
  21. ^ Dobbs (2008), pp. 3, 63–67
  22. ^ "Report about participation of submarines "B-4," "B-36," "B-59," "B-130" of the 69th submarine brigade of the Northern Fleet in the Operation "Anadyr" during the period of October- December, 1962" (PDF).  
  23. ^ Anatoly Petrovish Andreyev (October 11, 1962). "Letter to 'My Dear Sofochka!' (Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya)" (PDF). National Security Archive. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 


  • Amuchastegui, Domingo (1998). "Cuban intelligence and the October Crisis".  
  • Andrew, Christopher; Gordievsky, Oleg (1990). KGB: The Inside Story. New York, NY: HarperCollins. 
  • Barlow, Jeffrey (2007). "Cuban Missile Crisis". In Bruce A. Elleman & S. C. M. Paine. Naval Blockades and Seapower: Strategies and Counter-Strategies, 1805–2005. Routledge.  
  • Dobbs, Michael (2008). One Minute to Midnight. New York, NY: Vintage. 
  • Garthoff, Raymond L. (1989). Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. 
  • Gribkov, Anatoli I.; Smith, William Y. (1994). Operation Anadyr. Chicago, IL: Edition Q. 
  • Hansen, James H. (2002). "Soviet deception in the Cuban Missile Crisis" ( 
  • Manrara, Luis V. (1968). Truth About Cuba Committee. Miami, FL. 
  • Schecter, Jerrold L.; Deriabin, Peter S. (1992). The Spy Who Saved the World. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  • Zubok, Vladislav; Pleshkov, Constantine (1996). Inside the Kremlin's Cold War. Cambridge, MA:  

External links

  • Michael Dobbs, "THE SOVIET PLAN TO DESTROY GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE." Excerpt from "One Minute To Midnight Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War"
  • Joe Matthews (13 October 2012) "Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one", BBC
  • Soviet naval map of Foxtrot submarine locations off of Cuba, ca. October 1962
  • COMASWFORLANT (Commander, Anti-Submarine Warfare Forces, Atlantic) cable to AIG 43, October 29, 1962. The Underwater Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviet Submarines and the Risk of Nuclear War National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 399, October 24, 2012. National Security Archive. Retrieved March 31, 2015

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