Soviet Admirals Shunned Stalin’s Favorite Battlecruiser
The Soviet navy was not in great shape at the onset of the German invasion on June 22, 1941. Stalin had decimated the ranks of the naval officer corps, which greatly complicated planning, and the invasion forced many warship projects to a halt. The Soviets envisioned one of these... Read more
So You Want to Be a Soviet Navy Political Officer
The term “Soviet political officer” aboard a warship during the Cold War conjures up images of an iron-willed dogmatist — in the style of The Hunt for Red October — at odds with the military officers entrusted with running a ship at sea. In reality, the job wasn’t that... Read more
Coffee, Tea or Mach 3—Would You Like to Fly in a MiG-25 Business Jet?
This story originally appeared on April 3, 2014. The Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat was many things. An interceptor, reconnaissance aircraft and a fast, high-altitude, record-setting bogeyman that scared the pants off Western air forces in the 1970s. But a MiG-25 business jet? Coffee, tea or vodka served by an Aeroflot... Read more
The Soviet Cruiser ‘Kaganovich’ Navigated Political Purges
In 1938, the Soviet Navy laid down the Kaganovich, the fifth of six Kirov-class cruisers. Survivors of World War II, the Kirovs were responsible for mine-laying operations in the Baltic Sea and escorting troop ships reinforcing the besieged Black Sea port city of Sevastopol. The cruisers represented the Soviet... Read more
The United States Is Making the Soviet Union’s Mistakes
Jump into your time machine and let me transport you back to another age. It’s May 2001 and the Atlantic Monthly has just arrived in the mail. I’m tantalized by the cover article. “Russia is finished,” the magazine announces. The subtitle minces no words: “The unstoppable descent into social... Read more
The U.S. Air Force Planned the ‘Systematic Destruction’ of Soviet Cities
In one scene from Stanley Kubrick’s iconic Cold War film Dr. Strangelove, an irate president Merkin Muffley refuses to get on board with a massive nuclear attack already in progress. Played by Peter Sellers, Muffley is trying to decide what to do after a rogue U.S. Air Force general... Read more
One Soviet Defector Shoved Japan Into the Superpower Struggle
On Sept. 6, 1976, a Soviet MiG-25P Foxbat bearing the markings of the 513th Fighter Regiment swooped down onto a small Japanese civilian airport. The top-secret jet narrowly missed a Boeing 727 and landed on the runway, drogue chutes bursting out from its rear. A tire blew out but the... Read more

James Simpson

Contributor

Japan-based writer covering Japanese security news and military history.