SK Docs: Able Archer 1983 – The Brink Of The Apocalypse

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As some of you are well aware: I wub Cold War Documentaries.

This one was sent to us by a SlimK1nd reader.


In 1982-1983 the USA (Reagan) did a couple of things that made the Soviets very nervous: He did his “evil empire” speech. He announced a preliminary version of what later became known as Star Wars. He moved Pershing short range nuclear missiles into Europe. And the US began a series of military exercises which were called: Able Archer. The Soviets weren’t the most laid back and relaxed people to begin with, but these actions made them incredibly nervous. They thought that this was the beginning of World War III. They really thought a first strike was imminent.  Yuri Andropov (then already sick and dying) actually ordered his spies in the US and Europe to find out if the US and EU were hoarding stocks of blood. The idea was that if hospitals were ordering huge amounts of blood? Then the USSR can expect a nuclear attack soon…. ish.

In 1983 I had just entered high school.

I was blissfully unaware of all this.