Operation Ryan is the story of when the world almost came to a nuclear war. It was 1983 when Russia (then USSR) believed that the Ronald Reagan administration would have a first atomic attack on the Soviet Union. That belief led to the creation of Operation Ryan.
Yuri Andropov was the chairman of KGB. under his leadership in May 1981. A top-secret meeting happens where General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev condemns US president Ronald Reagan for being an anti-communist.
Yuri Andropov announced that the Reagan administration is planning a nuclear attack against the soviet union. In response to that, Yuri Andropov decides to launch an operation named “RYAN,” an acronym for Raketno-Yadernoe Napadenie, or “nuclear missile attack.”
Operation Ryan Objectives:
The operation’s main objective was to keep an eye on every move of the USA. Operation Ryan’s slogan was, “do not miss the moment when the west is about to launch a war.”
Operation Ryan primarily depended on the KGB officers stationed abroad for their information regarding the attack. In a way, this operation was entirely dedicated to every piece of information related to the USA officials & their site movement.
Oleg Gordievsky was stationed at the time in the Soviet embassy in London. Gordievsky came to know operation Ryan had flawed principles. He said, “soon I came to know that my colleagues see operation Ryan with skepticism.” Still, no one came forward with this to the general secretary or the KGB head Yuri Andropov. The result was Ryan became the most vicious intelligence-gathering operation to date.
Foreign stations and the officers were bound to send reports of even a little information related to the US even if they didn’t believe it.
London stationed officers were instructed to survey the lower to higher officials, keep an eye on their movement, watch their routine, and notify Moscow if anything shady smelled. It is said that London and spies in the USA and EUROPE were ordered to do the same.
Soviet defector Oleg Gordievsky remembered a top-secret KGB telegram being sent to London KGB residency in February 1983. stating the objective to make sure the residency stands to fulfill the need of taking necessary precautions. And to be committed to making plans and preparation to find out the plans of the main adversary USA.
And to organize the continual watch of any indication of a nuclear attack against the USSR and if there is, then to notify to prepare for the nuclear missile attack, there was an attachment included. The collection of data on potential place shelters.
Series of Instruction were forwarded like, To increase the stock of blood in blood banks, Watching over nuclear armory. Observation of the highest officials in nuclear decision making, communication lines, to keep an eye on churches and banks, military installations surveillance.
An announcement was made of missile Pershing ll, a nuclear-armed missile, to West Germany. Pershing II was capable of being fired from a road-mobile vehicle which was hard to find. Europe and Russia were only 6-8 minutes of flight time away for Pershing ll. 6-8 minutes was way less time to be prepared for a nuclear attack.
On 23 March 1983, president Ronald Regan announced the development of the strategic defense initiative. That made the soviet union more concerned about the imminent attack resulting from the expansion of operation Ryan. KGB head Andropov died in February 1984. Ryan continued to be maintained and developed under the direction of Victor Chebrikov. Operation Ryan was continued till April 1989.