60 years ago, the leadership of the USSR decided to conduct Operation Anadyr, which involved the deployment of R-12 and R-14 medium-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in Cuba.

This is stated in the materials of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Later, on July 7, 1962, a meeting was held in the Kremlin with the participation of the Group of Soviet Military Specialists in Cuba (GSVSK).

Speaking at it, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Nikita Khrushchev said that the USSR should help "to withstand the Cuban revolution from US aggression."

“We in the Central Committee decided to give America a hedgehog: to place our missiles in Cuba so that America could not swallow the Island of Freedom.

The consent of the Cuban side is available, ”Khrushchev said.

According to the Soviet leader, the political and military leadership of the USSR comprehensively weighed all the circumstances and came to the conclusion that only the deployment of missiles could prevent an American invasion of the young republic.

As stated in the materials of the Research Institute of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Moscow's decision was fully justified.

And the very measures for the delivery of ballistic missiles and other military equipment to Cuba, carried out by the Soviet troops, became "an example of high military art, which no army in the world had known before."

“In an atmosphere of complete secrecy, a 42,000-strong group of Soviet troops with a large amount of equipment and weapons was transferred to Cuba, and a colossal amount of work was done clearly, on time and relatively secretly,” the department noted.

For Cuba and your own safety

According to experts interviewed by RT, one of the goals of the Anadyr operation was indeed to protect the Island of Freedom from possible American intervention.

Recall that in 1959, with the mass support of the population, revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro seized power in Havana.

Before that, Cuba was ruled by the dictator Fulgencio Batista, under whom the country actually turned into an American colony.

Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington about the inadmissibility of an escalation of tension around the Island of Freedom.

However, the United States ignored the calls of the USSR and did not give up hope of returning Cuba under its control.

  • Map of the US Armed Forces showing the radius of destruction of Soviet missiles deployed in Cuba

  • © Public Domain

In April 1961, the Pentagon launched Operation Pluto against Havana.

The American Air Force attacked the airfields of the Island of Freedom, and armed Cuban emigrants landed in the Bay of Cochinos.

However, in a short time, Castro's troops managed to defeat the attackers.

In general, the USSR was alarmed by the military activity of the United States in the Caribbean.

The Americans conducted major exercises, constantly raised reconnaissance planes into the air, and maintained an economic blockade of Cuba.

In response, the Soviet Union made efforts to strengthen the defensive potential of the Cuban army.

Moscow supplied Havana with large quantities of weapons and sent military specialists to train local armed forces.

In addition, Operation Anadyr was preceded by a large-scale expansion of the US military and nuclear missile infrastructure near the borders of the USSR.

As of early 1962, the United States had at least 15 times more strategic nuclear warheads than the Soviet Union.

In an interview with RT, associate professor at Moscow State University.


Lomonosov, Doctor of Historical Sciences Alexei Fenenko noted that by deploying missiles to Cuba, Moscow sought to demonstrate to the United States its readiness to successfully resist their aggressive foreign policy.

The USSR hoped not only to protect its allies, but also to strengthen its own security.

“Moscow could not ignore the huge amount of American nuclear weapons that appeared in Europe, as well as the recently deployed medium-range missiles in Turkey.

The United States created a very big threat to the European part of the USSR.

We needed a kind of exchange fund in order to force the Americans to make concessions, ”Fenenko explained.

"Load boots and short fur coats"

The deployment of ballistic missiles was discussed with Castro during the visit of the Soviet delegation to Cuba, which took place from May 29 to June 9, 1962.

In addition to statesmen, Sergei Biryuzov, Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) of the USSR, and a number of other military leaders arrived on the Island of Freedom.

At first, Moscow's plan aroused Castro's bewilderment, but then the Cuban leader agreed with the arguments of the Soviet Union about the danger of a repetition of American aggression.

The official agreement on the deployment of ballistic missiles of the USSR on the Island of Freedom was concluded at the end of June 1962, during Castro's visit to Moscow.

A special department was created in the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces to plan the Anadyr.

Four months were allotted for the implementation of all activities.

  • Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev

  • RIA News

  • © Anatoly Garanin

The operation was coded as a strategic exercise with the relocation of troops and military equipment by sea to the northern regions of the Soviet Union.

Hence the name "Anadyr" - a settlement in Chukotka.

It was this peninsula, according to legend, that became one of the places for the delivery of a large number of military cargo.

For conspiracy, wagons with fur coats and sheepskin coats were brought to the ports from where Soviet ships went to the Island of Freedom.

“In order to disguise the port of destination, an instruction was given to load felt boots and sheepskin coats, mittens and hats with earflaps, and in unthinkable quantities.

Looking at these mountains of winter clothes, vigilant spies should have concluded that the Russians were going to occupy either Greenland or Antarctica, ”Andrey Sementkovsky, an employee of the scientific and methodological department of the Victory Museum, said in a comment to RT.

Operation "Anadyr" was impossible without a huge amount of preparatory measures.

For example, only for the relocation of one missile regiment to the port of departure, it was necessary to bring 17-18 railway echelons.

On average, it took two to three days to load one sea transport using portal and ship cranes, according to the materials of the Research Institute of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces.

In addition, various methods of camouflage from enemy reconnaissance were used.

“Heavy equipment (tanks, self-propelled guns, special vehicles) was loaded at night - into the lower holds, cars and tractors during the day - on the upper deck, under the guise of agricultural vehicles.

Missile boats placed on the deck were sheathed with boards and upholstered with metal sheets, becoming inaccessible to infrared equipment, ”the website of the Russian military department reports.

Loading was carried out in an atmosphere of high secrecy.

Even the senior officers were not informed about the ultimate goals of the movement of weapons and military units.

During loading, military personnel and crews of ships were deprived of any connection with the outside world.

The captains of the ships en route to Liberty Island were given three packets of secret instructions.

Only the last of them indicated the ultimate goal of the mission.

For example, the captains of ships leaving the Black Sea found out that they were sailing to Cuba only after the passage of Gibraltar.

The Soviet command did not rule out that the participants in the operation could be attacked.

In addition to escorting ships by the Navy, the Soviet command ordered that the decks of sea transports be equipped with large-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns.

These guns were covered with wooden caps, which were quickly removed if necessary.

“The secrecy was the most severe in everything.

Every step was legendary.

Orders on the topic "Anadyr" were transmitted only orally and in cipher.

The first groups of transports passed unnoticed.

The Americans simply did not attach importance to them, ”said Sementkovsky.

  • American base patrol aircraft Lockheed P-2 Neptune and a Soviet ship off the coast of Cuba

  • Gettyimages.ru

The harbors of Kronstadt, Liepaja, Baltiysk, Sevastopol, Feodosia, Nikolaev, Poti and Murmansk participated in a unique logistics operation.

In the first echelon, general-purpose units were delivered to the Island of Freedom, in the second - formations of the Strategic Missile Forces.

In total, 85 cargo platforms were involved in the operation, which were accompanied by submarines and surface ships of the Soviet Navy.

Thus, R-12 and R-14, a significant amount of air defense systems, aircraft, tanks, armored vehicles, self-propelled artillery installations (ACS) were successfully transported to Cuba by sea.

As a result, the USSR was able to deploy in Cuba one missile and two anti-aircraft missile divisions, four separate motorized rifle regiments, formations of aviation, cruise missiles, a number of special units and subunits.

The total number of deployed Soviet troops amounted to 42 thousand people.

Unambiguous success

The other side of Operation Anadyr was the hardest trials that befell the troops sent to Cuba.

Sea transports were not adapted to accommodate such a large number of people.

In addition, the temperature inside the holds often exceeded +50°C.

“Food was given out twice a day at night.

Many products - butter, meat and vegetables - quickly deteriorated due to high temperatures.

In such conditions, not without illness and even death of people.

Soldiers were buried according to the maritime custom - they were sewn up in a tarpaulin and lowered into the sea, ”according to the materials of the Research Institute of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces.

The first ships of the USSR began to arrive in Cuba in the second half of July, and transports with missiles in September.

From the sea harbors of the island, rockets were reloaded ashore only at night.

They were deployed in the west of Cuba near the village of San Cristobal and in the center near the port of Casilda.

In the east of the country, Soviet troops deployed several cruise missiles and a motorized rifle regiment.

The headquarters of the Group of Soviet Military Specialists in Cuba was established in Havana.

The main combat core of the GSVSK was the 51st division of the Strategic Missile Forces, consisting of about 8 thousand people.

Putting ballistic missiles on combat duty brought a lot of trouble.

One reason is the difficulty of transporting hazardous propellant components.

“The R-12 rocket is liquid, refueled with an aggressive oxidizer, fuel and hydrogen peroxide.

It took special containers to transport these components on the ships of the bulk fleet, and then in the port of Bahia-Onda - again pump the components into regular mobile containers, ”later recalled the chief engineer of the missile regiment of the 51st division of the Strategic Missile Forces Anatoly Burlov.

  • Soviet medium-range ballistic missile

  • © Russian Ministry of Defense

Additional problems for the Soviet military were delivered by the natural and climatic conditions of Cuba.

According to Burlov, rain in the tropics "led to the strongest toxic fumes."

For this reason, even in hot and stuffy weather, servicemen had to work in overalls and gas masks.

Despite this, the Soviet troops managed to deploy 40 rocket launchers in Cuba.

All problems with putting the R-12 and R-14 on combat duty were finally resolved in October 1962.

In the event of an American landing, the 51st division was covered by motorized rifle units of the USSR Armed Forces and the Cuban army.

Also, the Soviet command took care of ensuring the air defense of the GSVSK.

The Americans discovered signs of a Soviet military presence in Cuba only on October 14, when the deployment of ballistic missiles was in its final stages.

It is believed that from that moment the so-called Caribbean crisis moved into the most acute phase, when the USSR and the USA were on the verge of a nuclear conflict.

On October 27, when all 40 R-12 and R-14 installations were fully operational, Moscow and Washington signed an agreement on the mutual withdrawal of their missiles: the USSR undertook to evacuate the nuclear arsenal from the Island of Freedom, and the United States - missiles from Turkey.

In addition, the result of the successful operation "Anadyr" was the signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Tests of Nuclear Weapons in the Atmosphere, Space and Under Water between the USSR, the USA and Great Britain.

Also, as stated in the materials of the Scientific Research Institute of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, "for the first time, the US government began to negotiate with the USSR at a partner level, abandoning dictate in solving international problems."

  • Soviet military specialists in Cuba

  • RIA News

In 1963, 1,000 Soviet servicemen received state awards "for the exemplary performance of a special task of the government."

The number of those who died during the Caribbean Crisis is still classified.

However, according to open data from the Russian Ministry of Defense, from August 1, 1962 to August 16, 1964, 64 Soviet citizens died in Cuba.

As Andrei Sementkovsky noted, it was the steadfastness, courage, professionalism of the Soviet military personnel, as well as the brilliant work of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces, that made it possible to sober up the US leadership.

Washington abandoned attempts to return Cuba by military means and realized the inevitability of a nuclear war if Moscow's interests were not taken into account.

“The Caribbean crisis ended with an unambiguous success in saving the allied USSR Cuba from the intervention of the United States.

In addition, the Anadyr operation led to the curtailment of American missiles in Turkey,” Sementkovsky summed up.