In 1981 Moscow began a worldwide program for the collection of information about a U.S. nuclear surprise attack. Under the program, named Raketno yadernoye napadenie (Nuclear Rocket Attack), or RYaN, the KGB and GRU rezidenturas were ordered to collect and submit information about U.S. attack plans. For the next several years, RYaN became the Soviet intelligence services’ priority, and it created a war scare inside the Soviet political leadership. In 1983 misleading information convinced Moscow that Washington was planning a surprise nuclear attack to coincide with a NATO military exercise. The London rezidentura was told to look for evidence of British complicity, such as the increasing slaughter of cattle and the movement of the royal family out of London.
   RYaN information created a crisis mentality in the Kremlin in the fall of 1983. Soviet chief of state Yuri Andropov was convinced that NATO would use a military exercise as cover for a covert nuclear strike. KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievskiy, a British source in the rezidentura, provided the West with information about RYaN, which allowed the British and American governments to defuse the crisis. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also used Gordievskiy’s information about Soviet foreign policy to persuade U.S. President Ronald Reagan to pursue a more nuanced policy toward the Soviet Union.
   The RYaN program produced a bimonthly report for the political leadership for another seven years. SVR chief Yevgeny Primakov finally cancelled the RYaN program in November 1991, putting an end to a “purely formal but mandatory” report. The RYaN crisis, however, demonstrated the weakness of KGB analysis.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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