Military Review

Balance power

A quarter of a century without the Warsaw Pact has not added security to Europe

In 1990, the Warsaw Pact (ATS) ceased to exist, five years before the half-century anniversary. How possible at the present stage is an objective analysis of the activities of this once-powerful military-political organization and, more generally, a geopolitical project?

On the one hand, the ATS can not be called a great old tradition. Suffice it to say that the military structures of NATO that are unfolding in Eastern European countries use the Soviet legacy inherited by them, which to this day forms the basis of the weapons of our former allies. On the other hand, the political leaders who stood at the origins of the ATS and led it during the Cold War period have already gone into a different world. And the first question: did the Warsaw Pact ensure stability in Europe, or did it, on the contrary, play a destructive role?

Public opinion in the West, for obvious reasons, sees the ATS only in a negative light. In Russia, the situation is different. For liberal circles история ATS is associated exclusively with the events of 1968 of the year in Czechoslovakia and is perceived as the desire of the totalitarian regime to retain control over the socialist camp and in passing gain fear in the “free world”. Most of the society positively assesses the role of the Warsaw Pact, explaining the presence of Soviet troops in Eastern European countries with considerations of state security.

Soviet Europe

Why did the Soviet leadership create a powerful military grouping in Eastern Europe? The opinion of Western experts is well known: the Kremlin sought to spread its military and political influence throughout the world. A year after the creation of the Department of Internal Affairs, Khrushchev gave the western ambassadors the famous phrase: “We will bury you” (however, it was taken out of context). In the same 1956, the Soviet troops suppressed the Hungarian uprising, the USSR provided military support to Egypt in the struggle for the Suez Canal. And the West saw in Khrushchev’s ultimatum a threat of the use of nuclear against the European powers and Israel weapons.

But we must bear in mind that Hungary’s withdrawal from the Department of Internal Affairs could have become a precedent behind which there was a danger of the destruction of the entire military-political structure created by the USSR in the region. And then the expansion of NATO to the East would not begin at the end of the century, but half a century earlier, and there is no reason to expect that this would strengthen stability in Europe and in the world.

In addition, the ATS was created for six years later, NATO as a response step. The statements of the North Atlantic Alliance on guaranteeing the freedom and security of all its members in Europe and North America in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter were purely declarative. The aggression against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, the attempt to overthrow the legitimate regime in Syria, the desire to include in the orbit of influence the countries of the former USSR testify to the aggressive nature of NATO. The true goals of the bloc did not coincide in 1949 with the peace statements of its founders.

When creating the ATS, Moscow was guided solely by considerations of its own security. It was precisely the desire to prevent NATO from approaching the western borders of the USSR that led to a harsh reaction of the Kremlin to any attempts by the Warsaw Pact member states to withdraw from the organization. This should explain the introduction of troops to Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Recall that a few years before the suppression of the Prague Spring, the United States was ready to invade Cuba to prevent the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet missiles stationed there. Similar considerations in 1968 were guided by the Kremlin, forcing Dubcek to resign.

Just look at the map to make sure that Czechoslovakia, even more than Hungary, was the cornerstone of the entire military ATS system. By sending troops into a neighboring country, the Soviet leadership did not seek to acquire foreign territories, but maintained a balance of power in Europe.

Balance powerThe judgments of those who believe that Prague, who has left ATS, would not have been the sphere of influence of the USA in the near future, are extremely naive. Yes, the statements of American diplomats testified at that time about the reluctance of Washington, who had not yet recovered from the Vietnamese adventure, to aggravate relations with Moscow because of Czechoslovakia. However, it was clear to military experts in the West and in the Soviet Union: Czechoslovakia is not Vietnam, so the Kremlin could not rule out that Prague would allow a NATO base to be located on its territory, close to our borders.

Note the very geographical position of Eastern European countries in many respects predetermines the nature of their foreign policy doctrines. This orientation is either towards the USSR (Russia) or towards the West. As is known, the ex-OVD countries chose the second option, having turned from the allies of the powerful eastern neighbor, who saw brothers in arms to them, into NATO satellites, into cannon fodder for the realization of the geopolitical efforts of the United States. Why so, the explanation is simple: the Slavs, like the Hungarians with the Romanians, do not belong to the Romano-Germanic world. Therefore, the alliance does not guarantee our former partners security in the event of a large-scale military conflict — rather, they will leave to the mercy of fate. Imagine how the Americans or the British shed blood for freedom, for example, Poland, is impossible.

In general, Western analysts view the activities of the Department of Internal Affairs in the light of the so-called Brezhnev doctrine, the key provisions of which were formulated overseas, and not in the USSR, although the Soviet leadership did not dispute its basic theses. The essence of the doctrine: the USSR reserves the right to military intervention in the life of any country - member of the Warsaw Pact, if the latter wishes to leave the organization. Note that in fact a similar provision is contained in the NATO Charter. This document states that if destabilization in one country poses a threat to others, the alliance has the right to military intervention.

General Margelov vs Black Colonels

The conclusion of the Kremlin’s desire to preserve the military balance in Europe can be confirmed by the opinion of A. A. Gromyko, who headed the Foreign Ministry for 28 years. This most experienced diplomat was opposed to any changes in the country's foreign policy, consistently advocating the maintenance of the status quo on the world stage. This position is quite logical, because, according to the son of the Minister Anatoly Gromyko, an objective analysis of the foreign policy of the Brezhnev cabinet is possible only if we take into account the so-called 22 syndrome of June: almost all Soviet leaders went through the Great Patriotic War and therefore tried their best to prevent the escalation of military tension in Europe.

A year before the entry of troops into Czechoslovakia, the countries participating in the internal affairs department conducted the Rhodope exercises, caused by the arrival of the "black colonels" in Greece - then there was a real danger of the junta invading southern Bulgaria. Maneuvers were led by the commander of the Airborne Forces Army General V.F. Margelov. The paratroopers were flown to the Rhodope Mountains by air, along with the heavy equipment and anti-tank weapons at their disposal, since the Soviet General Staff allowed the possibility of tank attacks of the Greek troops. Parts of the Marine Corps also landed with heavy weapons on the coast and made a 300-kilometer march to the training site, in which Romanian and Bulgarian units also took part. Without too much pathos, let’s say that elite Soviet units led by the legendary general demonstrated, firstly, the USSR’s readiness to defend the allies, which NATO’s old-timers are unlikely to repeat, as regards their newly minted members, and secondly, they showed high military training and mobility. Moreover, the actions of the Soviet units cannot be called window dressing, because after almost a decade the same 106th Airborne Division demonstrated excellent combat readiness in the mountains of Afghanistan.

In the same year, exercises were conducted in the USSR under the code name "Dnepr", covering the territory of the Belarusian, Kiev and Carpathian military districts. Here Moscow involved exclusively Soviet troops, but the defense ministers of the countries participating in the Department of Internal Affairs were invited. Thus, the exercises can be called an integral part of the Warsaw Pact activities. Their scale is evidenced by the fact that the leadership was exercised by the Minister of Defense A. A. Grechko.

We believe that the Rhodope maneuvers and exercises “Dnepr” became a serious deterrent for those American generals who in 1968 were ready to insist on giving Czechoslovakia more active support.

Our response to Reagan

In 70, the situation in Europe remained stable: neither NATO nor ATS took any hostile actions towards each other, perfectly realizing their futility from a military point of view. However, the situation changed in 1981, when Reagan became the president of the United States, who publicly called the Soviet Union the evil empire. In 1983, Americans deployed Pershing-2 and Tomahawk ballistic missiles in Western Europe. Both types of offensive weapons were equipped with thermonuclear ammunition. Flight time "Pershing" to the territory of the Urals was about 14 minutes.

Of course, the actions of the White House were declared as a defensive measure against the “aggressive designs” of the Kremlin. Were such concerns of Washington justified? In 1981, the countries participating in the ATS conducted “West-81” exercises, which were of operational and strategic nature and became the largest in the history of the Soviet Armed Forces in terms of the scale and number of troops attracted comparable to the offensive operations of the Great Patriotic War. Automated control systems and some types of high-precision weapons were tested for the first time, the landing of a massive assault force in the enemy rear was tested. The exercises were offensive in nature, but their strategic goal was precisely defensive - to show the West the power of the ATS, the ability to prevent both any NATO aggression and interference in the internal affairs of the socialist countries. Note that the exercises were conducted in a period of instability in Poland.

The following year we conducted the exercise “Shield-82”, called in Brussels the seven-hour nuclear war. The actions of ATS troops in the conditions of a thermonuclear conflict were practiced. Against the backdrop of Reagan’s aggressive statements and the prospects for deploying American missiles in Europe, Moscow has taken adequate steps to demonstrate the power of the Soviet Armed Forces. Cruise missiles were launched from the side of the Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers, the interceptor satellite was put into orbit, etc.

The demonstration of the USSR and its allies of military power, probably caused the opposite effect - Reagan saw in the actions of Moscow the desire to deliver a nuclear strike first. In 1983, NATO conducted exercises codenamed Able Archer 83 (“Experienced Shooter”). The latter, in turn, alarmed the Soviet leaders. In response, the Kremlin brought the Strategic Missile Forces into readiness No. 1, increased army groups in the GDR and Poland. For the first time since the Caribbean crisis of 1962, the world is on the verge of nuclear war. However, the equilibrium between NATO and ATS made the armed conflict in Europe senseless, which in many ways made it possible to preserve peace. More precisely, the nuclear conflict was becoming meaningless, and the meeting on the battlefield of the land armies of the two military-political blocs could have ended on the shores of the English Channel. Such a conclusion can be drawn from the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. Even with overwhelming superiority, the alliance did not decide on a ground operation.

Alaska felt sorry

A natural question arises: would Reagan refuse to deploy nuclear missiles in Western Europe if we had not previously conducted large-scale exercises? Based on the doctrinal installations of the White House, the president’s aggressive rhetoric that followed a decade of NATO expansion to the East, a direct invasion of Iraq, it seems that the United States would deploy its missiles anyway.

One could argue: why, focusing on the USSR’s aspiration by creating an ATS to preserve stability in Europe, in fact, this wish is refused to Western countries - NATO members. Yes, probably creating the North Atlantic alliance, the leading European countries were guided primarily by defensive tasks, especially since the power of the Soviet Armed Forces even without taking into account the allies in the socialist bloc in aggregate significantly exceeded the military potential of England and especially France. Concerned about the preservation of a decaying empire and exhausted by the Second World War, Britain, of course, could not bear aggressive designs against the USSR - the Unthinkable plan should hardly be considered seriously, since London had no means or resources for its implementation. The same can be said about France, which in general did not find the strength and desire to defend its own independence in 1940, and the pro-Soviet sentiments in the Fourth Republic of the postwar period were very strong. However, the United States played a key role in NATO activities. In Washington, in the middle of the 20th century, they did not hide their aggressive intentions towards the USSR.

Suffice it to say that in the Pentagon year 1948 a plan of war against the USSR was developed, codenamed Troyan. American strategists expected to hit 133 with nuclear bombs on 70 Soviet cities. In this case, the US military leaders as the main goal set the task to destroy the civilian population, the main economic centers and military facilities of the Soviet Union.

The named plan was not the only one. The next year, the Pentagon developed 1949, a Dropshot (Short Strike), according to which it was planned to drop atomic 300 atomic bombs on 100 Soviet cities at the first stage, of which 25 to Moscow, 22 to Leningrad, 10 to Sverdlovsk, 8 - to Kiev, 5 - to Dnepropetrovsk, 2 - to Lviv, etc. As a result, the USSR’s irretrievable losses would have been about 60 million people, and with further military operations, more than 100 million.

This plan partially lost its relevance only in 1956, when Soviet long-range aircraft aviation were able to refuel in the air to reach US territory and launch a nuclear strike. However, the scale of possible losses was still incommensurable. Nuclear parity between the USSR and the USA was achieved only in the 70s.

In this situation, the creation by the Kremlin of a powerful military-political bloc in Eastern Europe became at least a relative guarantor of the fact that the Americans would not dare to use atomic weapons against us, since otherwise their allies would be under the blows of the Soviet troops. Washington didn’t want to lose Alaska, and in the event of a full-scale conflict with the Soviet Union, it would hardly have been possible to keep it.

The same thing that the United States not only hatched aggressive plans towards the USSR as a hostile system, but also sought to maximize the military and economic weakening of Russia as an alien civilization, of a different cultural and historical type, if expressed in the language of Nikolai Danilevsky overseas politicians. Zbigniew Brzezinski, after the end of the Cold War, stressed: “Do not be mistaken: the struggle against the USSR was in fact a struggle against Russia, whatever its name”.
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  1. Koshak
    Koshak 26 March 2016 06: 12
    Map with an error.
    Was Yugoslavia included in the internal affairs department? She participated in the Non-Aligned Movement, but not in the ATS.
    1. igordok
      igordok 26 March 2016 08: 22
      As far as I understand, the map depicts socialist countries (republics). The Ukrainian SSR and other republics of the USSR were not autonomously part of the ATS. The author probably wanted to show the republics of the Baltic states, which had crossed over into NATO.
      But on this map the SFRY and Czechoslovakia are depicted as one, and not divided into republics like the USSR.
      Strange map.
      1. Aleksandr72
        Aleksandr72 26 March 2016 08: 53
        This is a map of the socialist countries (moreover, all the Union republics of the USSR were reflected on it), which quite a while ago caught my eye. It’s just that only part of the map is included in the article, namely the European one. If you pay attention, then on the map you can also see Albania, which was also not part of the Warsaw Treaty organization, although it was one of the countries of the socialist camp. Unfortunately, I just can’t find the full version of this map, to put it here
        The list of countries that were displayed in the infographic on this map:
        The People's Socialist Republic of Albania (NSDA),
        The People's Republic of Bulgaria (UXO)
        Hungarian People's Republic (Hungary).
        The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV)
        The German Democratic Republic (GDR)
        People's Republic of China (PRC)
        The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
        Republic of Cuba
        Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR)
        The Mongolian People's Republic (MPR)
        The Polish People's Republic (Poland)
        The Socialist Republic of Romania (SRN)
        Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
        The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic)
        The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)
        But the essence is not important, the main thing is that our world does not turn into this:

        1. Aleksandr72
          Aleksandr72 26 March 2016 12: 21
          I apologize - there were only European socialist countries and republics of the USSR on the map - the RSFSR (with the Kaliningrad region), the Ukrainian SSR, the Belorussian SSR, the Moldavian SSR, the Lithuanian SSR, the Latvian SSR and the Estonian SSR. Here is the card itself in the highest possible resolution (found the same):
    2. Rastas
      Rastas 26 March 2016 11: 42
      SFRY was an associate member of the CMEA.
    3. Ze Kot
      Ze Kot 27 March 2016 19: 14
      There is more to the question with Finland and the Crimea.
  2. tundra
    tundra 26 March 2016 06: 16
    After the end of the Cold War, Zbigniew Brzezinski emphasized: “There is no need to be mistaken: the struggle against the USSR was actually a struggle against Russia, whatever it is called” .........

    The question is: what fool are they driving?
    About Crimea and sanctions, it’s not so different.
  3. Igor39
    Igor39 26 March 2016 06: 22
    The Yankees made the first atomic bomb, the first dropped it on peaceful cities, now they are worried that someone has an atomic bomb and can use it, level 80 hypocrisy.
  4. Aleksandr72
    Aleksandr72 26 March 2016 07: 02
    But once upon a time we were truly feared and respected. It used to be like this (in the photo, soldiers of the Soviet Army and NNA of the GDR - done at the dawn of the creation of the ATS):
    1. Talgat
      Talgat 26 March 2016 16: 34
      Totally agree Alexander!

      I watched how D Kunaev in Almaty hosted the SAVO parade. Probably the first time since the sons of Chinggiskhan - the steppe had such an advantage over the heavens. D. Kunaev is essentially the first khan of the steppe after a centuries-long break, who could fearlessly look at any neighbor from the south, including China.
      It was the time of the revival of the Golden Horde in a new guise - the USSR. The Great Steppe and Russia united Eurasia - and created absolute security against aggression from any direction - and the standard of living was the highest - and a just society to everything - without any oligarchs.

      Then we were not afraid of China - but China was afraid of us. Not NATO approached Russia with tenfold superiority - on the contrary, the USSR hung over Europe - and Europe didn’t even think about aggression - I would live

      But it doesn’t matter that everything is wrong. It happens. It happened.

      Everything will return - that is, history teaches us that every time at every fall - the great Eurasian empires are reborn in even greater splendor and brilliance!
  5. crasever
    crasever 26 March 2016 07: 10
    We were not going to attack, but today the former allies, in the event of a mess with Russia, are the first overseas to drive to slaughter.
  6. parusnik
    parusnik 26 March 2016 07: 47
    There was an internal affairs department .. there was peace in Europe .. the internal affairs department ceased to exist .. and it began ... or rather, equilibrium ended ..
  7. Cartalon
    Cartalon 26 March 2016 09: 49
    In my opinion, the creation of a belt of Soviet satellites in Europe was a mistake, with the use of nuclear weapons from the advanced positions to the Elbe not unavoidable, but there are a lot of negative factors, this rallying Western Europe under US authority and the costs of supporting weak CMEA economists worsened living standards in the USSR and had no effect in propaganda, Eastern Europeans compared themselves to Germany and only wanted to get out of the social camp, it would be better to create a neutral zone, similar to Finland and Austria.
    1. RomanS
      RomanS 26 March 2016 11: 21
      Of course a mistake! At the beginning of the 90s. the "mistake" was corrected, today we have NATO at the borders of Russia.
  8. Miner
    Miner 26 March 2016 10: 27
    In 1990, the Warsaw Pact (ATS) ceased to exist, five years before its half-century anniversary.

    The centennial anniversary of the Warsaw Pact, based on the date of its creation, was supposed to be in 2005.

    This is a fact.

    So the phrase contains an error.
  9. trantor
    trantor 26 March 2016 11: 14
    In 1983, NATO conducted a training codenamed Able Archer 83 ("Experienced shooter"). The latter, in turn, alarmed the Soviet leaders. In response, the Kremlin alerted Strategic Missile Forces No. 1

    In the article, everything, in principle, is true, but there is one inaccuracy. Firstly, neither in the SA nor in the RA such a degree (with this name) of combat readiness exists. Secondly, from the 75th to the 99th he served in the Strategic Rocket Forces and carried a database (in the 83rd as a deputy commander of the DS of the Republic of Poland) - if without details, then the RS in the All-Russian Special Forces for the entire period of my service were never given. There have been strengthened command posts, but this is not a transfer to the highest degree.
  10. Amper
    Amper 26 March 2016 12: 04
    Nostalgia! Such a balm for the soul - the USSR is a superpower, a reliable outpost for the world of capital, the world of human exploitation by man.
    How low we fell! As the Indians bought a pair of beads and a mirror ... We conquer the ancestors for no smell of tobacco.
  11. Stariknv
    Stariknv 26 March 2016 12: 06
    The Warsaw Pact was ordered to get rid of, while NATO and the USA began to expand and blame Russia for this.
  12. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 26 March 2016 17: 34
    The Warsaw Pact lacks peace!
  13. midshipman
    midshipman 26 March 2016 19: 16
    During the existence of the Warsaw Pact, I, as the Head of the Main Directorate of the USSR Ministry of Radio Industry, had to visit all countries. My duty was to be responsible for equipping the aerodromes with landing systems and RSBN. There were more than 50 airfields. Also created a chain of RSDN. According to this system, all our attack aircraft and bombers at heights of 50-70 meters could achieve any goals in Western Europe. We were respected. That would take me one day to go to any country of the VD at that time. Once, after the fall of the Yak-28 near Berlin, I left for the GDR right from the workplace, only with a certificate. Changing clothes on the plane. With me was the Deputy General Designer of the State system. recognition L. Makhteev. We watched how US experts recovered it from the lake. The main thing is to determine the state of our equipment after this disaster. Then there were events on this topic. And this shield Gobachev and the drunk of All Russia with his accomplices destroyed. I have the honor.
  14. Velikoruss
    Velikoruss 26 March 2016 21: 54
    The NATO fuss around our borders is not an end in itself, it is one of the elements of preparation for active actions against Russia, the planning of which did not stop even for a minute. The remaining elements are successfully implemented within our country through agents of influence. As a result, the current industrial potential of Russia is not comparable with the Soviet one, on an ideological level, one cannot but admit that a whole generation has grown up which it will sell to a mother for a hamburger, jamon or parmesan. The population growth, with grief in half, has recently been more or less stabilized, and immediately those who believe that this is too costly for the budget have been found. The level of education is rapidly falling. So the probability of a clash with the West in a big war is not at all hypothetical. The buildup of internal problems in the USA itself will surely force its owners to unleash another war of global proportions, since the existing configuration of the world no longer covers their needs and requires redistribution of this configuration. And I very much doubt that this will not affect Russia. And even the possibility of widespread use of WMDs is unlikely to stop them. Well, the Yankees have been trying too hard to set the world on fire lately. IMHO, of course.
  15. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 27 March 2016 08: 02
    It is not clear where the anger of the former allies comes from.

    Quote: Velikorus
    on an ideological level, one cannot help but admit that a whole generation has grown up that will sell it to a mother for a hamburger, jamon or parmesan. .

    But since these are our Russians, we need to somehow re-educate them. That would not have entered into all sorts of stupid societies
  16. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 27 March 2016 08: 11
    About maps. Surely, printed maps about the greatness of the USSR are purposely destroyed. And there were atlases and contours. Take care of who you left! We have a big Atlas book at home, and in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  17. Velizariy
    Velizariy 29 March 2016 15: 19
    Quote: Talgat
    Totally agree Alexander!

    I watched how D Kunaev in Almaty hosted the SAVO parade. Probably the first time since the sons of Chinggiskhan - the steppe had such an advantage over the heavens. D. Kunaev is essentially the first khan of the steppe after a centuries-long break, who could fearlessly look at any neighbor from the south, including China.
    It was the time of the revival of the Golden Horde in a new guise - the USSR. Great Steppe and Russia united Eurasia

    What did the Steppe do there? And what did this Steppe include? How many "divisions" did she have? What is its economic strength? Science and technology level? How developed is its infrastructure? And who is D. Kunaev? What kind of khan of the steppe, and again, how many "divisions" does he have?
    The trunk of this association, called the USSR, the Russian people and their organization, and the rest are branches, most of them later fell away and rotted ... And your steppe relative prosperity owes FULLY to the Russian people.
  18. alatanas
    alatanas April 7 2016 23: 52
    In Malta, Gorbachev (from the fools) hoped that if he dismissed the ATS, the Americans would dismiss NATO. Then there was a promise of non-expansion of the same NATO. You yourself know what happened in the end. The same thing is about CMEA. We are doing perestroika, and you (Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia) save yourself as you can! Gorbachev does not need you and he does not ask you what you think about all this. So it was.