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The Cold War had the continuous planning and the logistic process on the operational and the strategic levels. It was both amazing and casual process at the same time. The high intelligence people were doing everything possible in order to prepare their countries for the full-fledged nuclear war over the course of decades. In so doing they made this war closer. The preparation included a wide range of activities. The most important activities namely were as the military operations planning, the armed forces preparing, the country’s economy preparing, the country’s territory preparing regarding to the armed forces interest done and the country’s population preparing to the coming war. They did not pay attention to this Cold War history aspect until now, however, the Cold War political history was studied deeply. There were a lot of scientific works published. We dare to conclude they published tens of thousands of works.

This book is just one of the first steps into a topic that was previously completely closed for the researchers. We can only put forward a version about what the warring party forces were preparing for and until such time as the armed forces plans were not declassified as the plans for the first operations in the theatres of operations and similar documents as well. However, if we wait until the whole range of the documents becomes available, we will risk getting nothing. It is possible to set out the history of the operational and the strategic planning of the parties thanking to the declassification of the archival documents today and this is except for the period of the First World War. There were eighty years passed away since the Second World War but there is still no complete set of the systemized statistical data of any Soviet operations. Therefore, we do not take the liberty of the history representing of the operational-strategic planning of the parties in the Cold War. It is highly unlikely that it will be possible to do such ambitious task in the realm of possibilities. However, we are sure that it is advisable to collect, process and introduce into the scientific circulation at least those materials that are already available today. It will be possible to obtain a lot of information about the Cold War theme. As a result of it we understand that this activity will become out-of-date while the declassification of the new documents will be done.

This book should not be taken as a guide to the previously secret military disciplines. It is not intended as a training manual for the officers. Only one course of the strategy at the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR was about 800 hours in the 1980s! Even the basics of this course cannot be shown due to the volume of our book. Yes, and it is not necessary, because this was owned by people who developed plans for operations, scenarios for the command-staff exercises and the military games on the maps in the Soviet times. It is enough for us to get acquainted with the results of their work because no one could know better it than them. They were fully responsible for the competence of their assessments and conclusions in addition.

The format of our work excludes the emotional assessments. We do not deal with newfangled alternative history and predictions in the style of ‘what could have happened if…’ in addition. Such research is simply pointless because they plan one thing in the war, and it comes out completely different. And this is a completely normal practice of the armed struggle due to the great influence of the factor of chance. For example, the NATO command believed that the nature and content of the military theater operations (MTO) would directly depend on the methods of the war unleashing with the Warsaw Pact countries. And the multivariance of the war scenarios does not allow to know the prognosis of the further forecasting of the military action course.

These circumstances affected the operational training of the command and the control bodies of the NATO and the Warsaw Pact united armed forces. They always missed the beginning war moment in the simulated practice scenarios and as usual they gave the developed situation what was at a given time moment after the commencement of hostilities. They also never spoke specifically about the circumstances of making the political decision to use the nuclear weapon (this is the competence of the highest politics and this is not the military one) but they immediately proceeded to work out the issues of its usage. The mandatory attention was paid to the clear planning and the constant readiness for its usage at all stages of the operation in the case that a ‘nuclear order’ still happens and all the topics of the exercises was provided for the conduct of the hostilities without the use of the nuclear weapons as well.

We did not set for ourselves the task of shedding light on the history of the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries and NATO during the Cold War although the pages of this book have a lot of information about the composition of the armed forces and their deployment. It would be impossible. This subject is very broad-gauge, and a lot of military-historical studies were devoted to its various aspects in the countries what were participating in both blocks. The assessment of troops (forces) and their capabilities (both our own and the enemy) is included in the concept of ‘situation assessment’ at the same time. It is the most important part in the development of plans and plans of the operations. Therefore, we dwell on this topic only insofar as it concerns the main direction of our research.

The chronological framework of our research covers the period from the end of World War II in 1945 to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1991. The geographic framework covers all regions of the research where the opposing blocs intended to create theatres of the war. But since this is a huge amount of information and that is why we will be able to revise only a part of the South-Western theater of operations – Balkan strategic direction and the Black Sea straits zone namely.

Let us note that the Western theater of operations was considered the main one in the Soviet Army. The Northern, the Western and the Eastern ones were the main strategic directions for the repelling of the enemy aerospace attack in a nuclear and conventional war.1 There was one operational echelon in the South and East and they had the first strategic echelon in armament set of the two operational echelons.2 According to the words of the Chief of the General Staff Marshall S. Akhromeyev: ‘There are three groups in the Soviet Armed Forces, and they are leading and determining to a large extent their condition. These are the strategic nuclear forces, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and the Northern Fleet. The enemy evaluates the state of the Armed Forces of the USSR in general and specifically according to them in Europe’.3 The South-Western theater of operations, the Odesa military district and the Black sea fleet did not belong to the listed priorities as you can see. That is why they did not attract the attention of the researches. The military historians dealt with the theme of the Central European theater based on documents what were disclosed in the archives of the NATO countries and the former GDR as a rule. Meanwhile, the events on the southwestern flank were no less interesting than in the center of Europe. They did not lose their relevance having the current geopolitical situation.

The strategic operation of the Southwestern theater included the first and the second front-line offensive operations and it was presented as the offensive one by a group of fronts with the aim of routing the enemy’s armed forces and it was withdrawing the states of the enemy coalition from the war. The troops of the Warsaw Pact member were tasked with taking possession of Northern Greece, the Black Sea straits and it was facilitating the breakthrough of the naval forces from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean Sea. It was done in the short time and it was within the framework of the front’s first operation. This meant that the Soviet troops in the cooperation with the forces of the fleet and the landing forces would conduct an offensive in the shortest directions in order to cut and destroy the main enemy grouping in the cover zone and it was in the fortified areas at the operational level. They used the results of the nuclear strikes as well. They will carry out forcing on the move on a wide front of the Black Sea Straits and offensives will be developed with the aim of repelling the strikes of the enemy reserves and it will be achieving the goal of the operation in the future.4 The United Black Sea Fleet will seize supremacy during its first operation in parallel with this in the Black Sea. It will be landing in the Straits Zone and it will be barring and overcoming the Straits during the second operation. And it will enter the Aegean Sea and it will create a new basing system on its islands and coast. The second operation of the front was the conduct of hostilities for the withdrawal of Greece from the war and the occupation of its territory on the Balkan direction. The second operation of the front after the crossing of the Bosphorus was an offensive action in the Asian part of Turkey with the aim of bridging this country out of the war. Such planning and preparation of an offensive with decisive goals corresponded to the requirements of Soviet strategy. Chief of the General Staff Marshal of the Soviet Union S. Akhromeyev used the Western theater of operations example in 1988. He characterized it as follows: ’We hoped to repel the aggressor within a few days and even hours. We could decide the success of the case in oncoming battles then…We did not confine ourselves to bringing the fronts of the first operational echelon into full combat readiness, but as a rule and it could be even before the outbreak of the war and that is why we also moved the fronts of the second operational echelon from the territory of the Soviet Union to the GDR and Czechoslovakia. As a result, they created two powerful and approximately equal in strengths groups in the theater of operations. They were practically simultaneously prepared for the conduct of war. The enemy grouping was prepared for the attack and our grouping was prepared to its disruption. And we hoped that having approximately equal or perhaps slightly more forces and means we would be able to seize the initiative in oncoming battles and go straight to offensive operations in such cases.’5 But this was in the Central Europe. The early strategic and operational deployment of Soviet troops created a decisive advantage in forces and weapons over the enemy from the first hours of the war in the Southwestern theater of operations. Colonel, the chief of intelligence of the Odesa Military District E. Kovyzhenko that NATO command believes that both in a general nuclear war and especially in a limited war the armed forces of the theater bloc will conduct hostilities in unfavorable conditions. He reported it in the 1972. This forced them to plan operations of the ground forces and it could be partly the air force and navy of the bloc in four isolated regions (Italy, Greece, western and eastern parts of Turkey) due to the disunity of the theater and the significant superiority of the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact. The NATO command plans to conduct defensive operations considering these features as well as the mountainous nature of the terrain. It should be done in the theater in the main accessible areas of Turkish and Greek Thrace and it would be intercepting the routes of the Warsaw Pact troops to the important military-industrial centers of NATO countries in theater of operations.’6 The NATO command considered the area of Greek Thrace to be especially dangerous. Due to the lack of the necessary depth it was possible for the troops for quickly move to the coast of the Aegean Sea and it would lead to the isolation of the NATO grouping operating in Greek and Turkish Thrace.7

How were these operations seen at NATO and Warsaw Pact headquarters? How did they prepare for it? What forces did they have? This is the military aspect of the Cold War which did not get the consideration in the military history literature until now. We will try to answer these questions on the pages of this book.

The first chapter is devoted to the general questions of our research. It is impossible to start to consider the topic without it. What range of documents can be related to our topic? What were these documents? What system of secrecy was adopted in both blocks? What is currently declassified and constitutes our source base?

The second chapter is entirely devoted to the NATO’s views on the possible military action in the specified region. They are considered for considering the changes that took place under the influence of the position of Yugoslavia as well as dynamics of the development of the armed forces of Greece and Turkey during the Cold War. The influence of the Greco-Turkish conflict which brought the Southern flank of NATO to the brink of collapse at a certain moment and it was considered separately.

The third chapter is devoted to the allies of the USSR in the Balkans. It was based on the archival sources and modern military-historical research. The author examines the armed forces of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania during the Cold War. The details of the first front-line operation of the Bulgarian army were revealed as well as specifics of Romania’s participation in the Warsaw Pact (before the arrival of the Soviet troops at its theater).

The fourth chapter is devoted to the development of front-line offensive operations in the Balkans. Since we cover a fairly long period and it is more than 40 years. That is why the topic is divided according to the individual problems. These areas are about the composition of the fronts, operational deployment, the use of nuclear weapons, the forcing of the Black Sea straits, the breakthrough of fortified areas, the use air and sea landings… There were different views and they were about the overall planning of operations. They discussed the using of the example of the course of the individual exercises and maneuvers. Thanking to this approach we can consider this huge and lengthy process without drowning and details and trifles.

The fifth chapter examines the operational amphibious assault in the Bosphorus which was the basis of the joint air-naval operation of the coalition group of the Warsaw Pact armed forces. The materials of this chapter were partially published in the Russian military-historical press and they got the positive reviews from other countries (Poland, Romania, the USA). This contributed us to the continuation of our work.

As we said above this book dedicated to the Balkan strategic direction and the Black Sea straits zone. This is only the first part of the study. The Black Sea basin and the Transcaucasian front operations will be the topic of the second part of our work, and they will be presented in a separate book. In the third part we will consider the offensive of the Warsaw Pact troops from Hungary in the Northern Italian strategic direction. The factor of neutral Austria and Switzerland will be considered as well as operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Other theaters of war may be covered in the separate books. 


1.    Theses of the report of the Chief of the General Staff, General of the Army M.A. Moiseyev at a scientific-practical conference on the topic ‘Analysis of the experience of the combat use of troops (forces) of the opposing sides in the Persian Gulf zone and its use in the interests of building and training the Armed Forces’ // Sectoral state archive of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GDA of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine). – Fund 4235. – Description 4TV. – Case 8. – P. 25.

2.    Ibid. – Sheet 26.

3.    Instructions of the Exercise Director – Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR Marshal of the Soviet Union S.F. Akhromeyev // Ibid. – Fund 4235. – Description of 4TV. – File 2. – P. 27.

4.    Materials of the XIII Military Scientific Conference of the Odesa Military District, April 6 – December 31, 1972. – Operational Directorate of the Headquarters of the Red Banner Odesa Military District // Ibid. – Fund 5688. – Description of A1P. – File 317. – P. 12.

5.    Instructions of the Exercise Director – Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR Marshal of the Soviet Union S.F. Akhromeyev // Ibid. – Fund 4235. – Description of 4TV. – File 2. – P. 28.

6.    Materials of the XIII Military Scientific Conference of the Odesa Military District, April 6 – December 31, 1972. – Operational Directorate of the Headquarters of the Red Banner Odesa Military District // Ibid. – Fund 5688. – Description of A1P. – File 317. – P. 335-336.

7.    Report about the military-scientific conferencing of the Odesa Military District management on the topic: ‘Features of the command and control of the front troops during the long-distance advance and the conduct of an offensive operation in the coastal direction in the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons and a complex electronic situation’. - 3/ 0058, January 27, 1978 // Ibid. – Fund 5688. – Description of A1P. – File 315. – P. 338.