Soviets Planned Nuclear First Strike to Preempt West, Documents Show

The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact had a long-standing strategy to attack Western Europe that included being the first to use nuclear weapons, according to a new book of previously Secret Warsaw Pact documents published today. Although the aim was apparently to preempt NATO "aggression," the Soviets clearly expected that nuclear war was likely and planned specifically to fight and win such a conflict.

The documents show that Moscow's allies went along with these plans but the alliance was weakened by resentment over Soviet domination and the belief that nuclear planning was sometimes highly unrealistic. Just the opposite of Western views at the time, Pact members saw themselves increasingly at a disadvantage compared to the West in the military balance, especially with NATO's ability to incorporate high-technology weaponry and organize more effectively, beginning in the late 1970s.

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