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Report: Russia Used Dummy Missiles

November 17, 1998 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ Many of the monstrous strategic missiles displayed in Red Square parades during the Soviet era were only dummies, but they scared the West into an expensive response, a Russian magazine reported Tuesday.

One such fake _ GR-1, an acronym for Global Missile _ showed during a May 9, 1965, parade prompted the United States to build an anti-missile defense system worth billions of dollars, said the weekly magazine Vlast (Power).

In fact, the Soviets had abandoned the GR-1 project long before the parade.

Another two mobile ballistic missiles shown on the same day were also fakes, their test launches having been a complete failure, the magazine said.

``Foreign military attaches were scared to death, triggering panic in NATO headquarters,″ it said. ``A huge international uproar followed, and only those who prepared this demonstration knew they were dummies.″

One of the authors of the Vlast report worked as a Soviet missile engineer and said he had personally worked on a support system for one of the fake missiles to prevent it from bouncing on the stone-paved Red Square.

The magazine said Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev first bluffed the West with the legend of powerful Russian missiles, saying the Soviet Union was making them ``like sausage.″

``Such comparison sounded ambiguous for the Soviet people, because the sausage was in deficit, but it duly impressed foreigners,″ it said.

At the time Khrushchev made the comment, the Soviets only had four intercontinental ballistic missiles at the ready, while the United States had 60.

``The myth about the Soviet missile superiority was convenient for both the Soviet leadership and the American military industrial complex, which was getting huge contracts,″ the magazine said.

It wasn’t until 1970 that the Soviet Union reached parity with the United States in land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the overall nuclear balance was attained only shortly before the 1991 Soviet collapse, Vlast said.

``That was the end of the missile race,″ the report said. ``The Soviet Union broke its neck in the financial and technological competition and collapsed.″