Operation RYAN (or RYaN) was a cold war military intelligence program run by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 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 the 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 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


  1. ^ a b c d Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-14-028487-7.
  2. ^ A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare — Phase II: A New Sense of Urgency by Benjamin B. Fischer
  3. ^ Benjamin B. Fischer. "A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare — Appendix A: RYAN and the Decline of the KGB". 

Further reading

  • The Vicious Circle of Intelligence - Nate Jones, The National Security Archive [1]
  • The Able Archer 83 Sourcebook - Nate Jones, The National Security Archive [1]
  • Forecasting Nuclear War: Stasi/KGB Intelligence Cooperation Under Project RYAN - Bernd Schaefer, Nate Jones, and Benjamin B. Fischer - The Wilson Center [2]
  • Stasi Documents Provide Details on Operation RYaN, the Soviet Plan to Predict and Preempt a Western Nuclear Strike; Show Uneasiness Over Degree of “Clear-Headedness About the Entire RYaN Complex. [2] - Nate Jones, The National Security Archive
  • War Scare – Peter Vincent Pry
  • A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare – Benjamin B. Fischer [3]