Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Operation Anadyr

On how a nuclear catastrophe was prevented from happening 55 years ago, and on Ukraine’s involvement
13 November, 2017 - 18:13
JUNE 3-4, 1961 / Photo from the website wikipedia.org
Anatolii Matveiev is major general (ret.), ex-head of Ukraine’s military counterintelligence service (1995-99)

This Fall marks the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world was on the verge of a nuclear war between two superpowers, Soviet Russia and the United States, preceded by Soviet Russia’s top-secret Operation Anadyr when ballistic missiles and medium-range bombers were deployed in Cuba, including a strategic missile division based in Romny, Sumy oblast, Ukraine.

Cuba’s geographical position was something the Soviet political leadership could only dream of. An ideal site for the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons, with US missiles being deployed in the UK, Italy, and Turkey. When launched from Turkey, a missile would reach Moscow in about 10 minutes. There were also the US Single Integrated Operational Plans (SIOP) One and Two that worried the Kremlin. Russians wanted to find a way to prevent the Americans from building up their nuclear arsenal along the Soviet frontiers. In June 1962, Cuba and the Soviet Union signed a secret agreement on the deployment of Soviet forces on the island.

At the time, nuclear tensions between the US and the USSR were high. Experts say that US nuclear potential was 17 times superior to that of the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. Washington was hiring rocket scientists from across the world. Soviet Russia was doing its best, but couldn’t match the States. J.F. Kennedy learned about the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba and realized the threat to his country… In the end, he and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed that what could happen would mean the end of the world. Kennedy stomped his foot, quieting the Hawks, ordered the withdrawal of US nuclear systems from Turkey, and Khrushchev ordered the withdrawal of Soviet missile systems from Cuba. Cuba would treat Ukrainian children, victims of the Chornobyl disaster, for a long while as a sign of gratitude.

Requested by Fidel Castro, Operation Anadyr was assigned to the 43rd Missile Division based in Romny, Sumy oblast, Ukraine. All top-secret arrangements, including personnel and deployment of missile systems in Cuba, were made by the division’s “special department” headed by S.D. Burdo (subsequently promoted to major general). Soviet army counterintelligence officers closely collaborated with the regional state security agencies. The CIA detected the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba after they had been installed and made ready. The whole operation required extraordinary intelligence and counterintelligence efforts. Hence the name: Operation Anadyr. It was intentionally misleading, as though everything was done somewhere in Alaska. There were no leaks due to a combined effort on the part of the military, political, and military counterintelligence command. The 51st Missile Division was formed based on the 43rd Division (Romny). It included regular missile regiments based in the towns of Akhtyrka, Lebedyn, and Hlukhiv (Sumy oblast), as well as other units located in what was then Byelorussia and the Baltic republics.

This missile division was placed under the able command of General I.D. Statsenko (born in Kyiv oblast). After a period of training, personnel and materiel were shipped off to Cuba from the seaports of Mykolaiv, Sevastopol, and Baltiisk. Mykolaiv alone handled 21 shipments numbering 5,473 personnel and 2,488 units of materiel, including 28 R-12 and R-14 missiles. The passage across the ocean lasted 15-20 days. The 51st Missile Division was deployed in Cuba on October 22.

One can see a similar physical contest occurring today with Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Russia sees Turkey’s military potential as a major threat to its national security, the way Soviet Russia saw it 55 years back, regarding that country as a US and NATO outpost on its southern flank. In 1962, the Soviet General Staff initiated and carried out the deployment of missiles in Cuba. In 2014, the General Staff of the Russian Federation obviously designated its strategic US and NATO targets on the southern flank and hit them by (a) occupying Crimea and militarizing the peninsula, including plans for the deployment of missiles with air and naval support; (b) invading the east of Ukraine and carrying out espionage and sabotage missions across Ukraine.

Operation Anadyr also provided for reliable air, ground, and naval defenses for the strategic missile deployments. Marshal S.S. Biryuzov, then head of Soviet Russia’s strategic missiles, was sent to Havana to make arrangements for the operation. General I.A. Pliyev was appointed as commander of the Soviet contingent in Cuba. Robert F. Kennedy wrote in his Thirteen Days: “That was the beginning of the Cuban missile crisis – a confrontation between the two giant atomic nations, the US and the USSR, which brought the world to the abyss of nuclear destruction and the end of mankind.” Nikita Khrushchev then said: “We are sending our troops not to wage a war, only to defend the Cuban revolution and show the Americans that there are forces in this world that can oppose them.”

One can see a similar physical contest occurring today with Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Russia sees Turkey’s military potential as a major threat to its national security, the way Soviet Russia saw it 55 years back, regarding that country as a US and NATO outpost on its southern flank. In 1962, the Soviet General Staff initiated and carried out the deployment of missiles in Cuba. In 2014, the General Staff of the Russian Federation obviously designated its strategic US and NATO targets on the southern flank and hit them by (a) occupying Crimea and militarizing the peninsula, including plans for the deployment of missiles with air and naval support; (b) invading the east of Ukraine and carrying out espionage and sabotage missions across Ukraine.

Russia did this in order to achieve military parity with NATO and the United States and to neutralize Turkey’s military potential as the strongest NATO member and US ally in the south.

Russia and North Korea are fueling the fire of military hysteria and mounting tensions in the relations between various countries, obviously ignoring the existing agreements and arrangements that provide for various political systems. This is very disturbing. This can bring mankind to the abyss of nuclear destruction.

Some of the men who took part in Operation Anadyr still live in Ukraine. They knew what was coming: the nuclear Armageddon. There are over 500 [of them] who reside in Kyiv oblast. Quite of few of them head local war veterans organizations, among them Colonel General (ret.) M.O. Lopatin, Lieutenant General I.V. Pustovyi, colonels (ret.) A.S. Horiunov, V.H. Bozdnikov, A.S. Selivanko, H.I. Sedikov, V.S. Saievskyi, H.I. Letushov, O.I. Prokshyts, H.M. Baratynskyi, T.H. Akalova... They mostly live in former military towns located in Sumy oblast. Noted Ukrainian army commanders were in charge of the Soviet contingent in Cuba, among them Colonel Generals A.V. Lopata and O.I. Zatynaiko. Their experience is being used in combat training and patriotic education to help protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to develop and enhance its defenses against the enemy missile attacks.

By Anatolii MATVEIEV
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