Sunday, November 27, 2005

Poland risks Russia's wrath releases Soviet nuclear attack map
Poland's new rightwing government yesterday risked a damaging confrontation with Russia when it published a Warsaw Pact map showing detailed plans for Soviet nuclear strikes against western Europe.
Poland threw open the doors of its military archives to show how most of Europe would have been laid to waste in a nuclear conflagration between east and west. Dating from 1979, when presidents Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev were discussing detente, the map showed how Warsaw Pact forces would have responded to an attack by the Nato alliance.

A series of red mushroom clouds over western Europe show that Soviet nuclear weapons strikes would have been launched at Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium if Nato had struck first. Red clouds are drawn over the then German capital, Bonn, and other key German cities such as the financial centre of Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and the strategically important northern port of Hamburg. Brussels, the political headquarters of Nato, is also targeted. Blue mushroom clouds, representing the expected Nato nuclear strikes, are drawn over cities in the eastern bloc, including Warsaw and the then Czechoslovakian capital, Prague. France would have escaped attack, possibly because it is not a member of Nato's integrated structure. Britain, which has always been at the heart of Nato, would also have been spared, suggesting Moscow wanted to stop at the Rhine to avoid overstretching its forces. The exercise, entitled Seven Days to the River Rhine, indicated Warsaw Pact forces aimed to reach the Franco-German border within a week of a Nato attack.

Commander Waldemar Wojcik, the head of Poland's Central Military Academy, said: "This was an exercise based on the assumption of a Nato attack. The doctrine of the day was that the Warsaw Pact countries were peace loving." He added: "I visited the Pentagon in 2001 and was shown maps that were the mirror image of this."

Other papers released covered Operation Danube, the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and details of a massacre of Polish strikers in 1970 at Szczecin which led to the downfall of Wladyslaw Gomulka, the relatively moderate leader.

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