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Operation Unthinkable.Churchill's Secret Plan To Invade Russia

Updated on January 4, 2010
First page of Operation Unthinkable
First page of Operation Unthinkable
Churchill,Roosavelt and Stalin at Yalta.
Churchill,Roosavelt and Stalin at Yalta.

Operation Unthinkable: Russia: Threat to Western Civilization

On May 8th 1945 as most of the world celebrated Victory Over Europe and the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces, Winston Churchill was ill at ease and the cause of his agitation was Stalin.

The allied initiative to supply Russia with food and raw materials had not only helped to force the formidable German army into retreat from Stalingrad, but had resulted in a stronger and numerically superior Russian Army occupying the whole of Eastern Europe.

Despite numerous reassurances by Stalin at the Yalta Conference to suspend his advance eastwards, until suitable agreements over the division of Eastern Europe had been agreed, the Red Army now staked their territory all the way to Berlin.

It was with this in mind that Churchill secretly briefed his chiefs of staff to “consider the unthinkable”, a possible alliance between Russia and Japan freeing Japanese forces to reinforce Japan’s homeland defences. Also a Russian invasion of Persia and Iraq to seize the oil fields, a strategic move into Turkey and Greece to cut off valuable Allied supply lines, plus incursions across the Low Countries and into France.

The resulting report named "Operation Unthinkable: Russia: Threat to Western Civilization”, was presented to the Prime Minister on the 22nd May 1945 and has only recently been rediscovered in the National Archives at Kew.

It proposed that a mainly British and American allied force consisting of 47 divisions including 14 armoured divisions and 4 Polish divisions, attack the Russian lines simultaneously in a 2 pronged offensive on the 12th July 1945. Also that a further 10 German divisions would to be re-equipped and trained to join the offensive in the autumn.

In an evaluation of their opponents it was determined that they would be up against a force of 170 Red Army divisions, of which 30 would be armoured and although outnumbered 2 to 1, a significant proportion of the Red Army would be tied-up holding the “violently anti-Russian” Polish population.

The general opinion was that the Allies could maintain superiority in the air and at sea, with the navy controlling the Baltic to reinforce the Allies left flank and the air force, used to destroy vital communications and bridgeheads across Russia.

In their assessment, the Red Army had been portrayed “as ill-educated” and “ill-disciplined”, with inferior training, experience, equipment and that, after the withdrawal of Allied aid they would be hampered by a lack of food and materials. Although with much of the German “rocket and pilotless aircraft” technology now available to them in Russian occupied territory, the Allies had to consider a possible threat by “new technologies” of which they had little or no defence.

The plan also considered 2 possibilities, a quick and decisive strike which would disable the Russian war machine and push Stalin’s influence out of Eastern Europe or, a long and protracted war which would result in total occupation of Russia.

It was generally agreed that the possibility of a decisive strike was improbable and with the onset of the Russian winter, which had already been the downfall of Napoleon’s and the German’s previous attempts to conquer the country, the whole project was simply “too hazardous”.

In retrospect, it was a decision which resulted in millions of deaths under the Stalinist regime, created a Cold War and an arms race that lasted for over half a century. So rightly or wrongly the plan was dismissed and World War III was consigned to 30 pages of faded yellowing paper.


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      bush 4 years ago

      hitler and stalin had the same motives of world war II ,stalin hoped that after the war he will conquer eastern europe and later advance west and midle east.he partially achieved this and one could conclude that had it not been America and British's threat for the war probably his attempts would have came to pass in the long run.

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      AndreiV 4 years ago


      That are human lives. Can you stop that antirussian bs!?


      Why you think the us should have attacked the USSR?

      Do you want that innocent russian women, men and children were killed? If so, then you are not better than a nazi...

      How many children and woman have lost they lives just to fight the germans back? The most part were not done by the USSR army but by civilians. 7 million soldiers died, but 25 million USSR civilians!

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      twig 5 years ago

      Russia would have lost as the US would have nuked Russia to the stone age.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 6 years ago from Singapore

      Well its nice reading about it now. But the fact is if Churchill had tried something so foolish the UK would have ceased to exist.

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      K-345 6 years ago

      Do you think your empire, a loos lot of primitive Indis, Pakis and soft Canadians, Asuis, Newzies... are up to take on Ivan? LOL!

      And the notion that Soviets were behind the spread of nukes is as absurd as Iraq have WMD, or the "state of israel".

      As for the atom bomb, by 1946 there were only 11 bombs in the US arsenal; so strategically and tactically, it's useless- remember there were no ICBMs or Mach 2 bombers only the piston powered B-29; an easy target to the vast 50,000-fighters/bombers Soviet air force.

      If it works, they would've done it.

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      Chris 7 years ago

      You must consider that in 1945 America had a Nuke and Russia did not...also the Allies has a signifigantly stronger Navy and Air also cannot forget the size and strength of the Brittish Commonwelth which my be numerically stronger than the USSR...

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      zeke peters 7 years ago

      It could have been done.

      The russians are weakies .

      With a force as theiers at leats on paper they should have been in Berlin already in 1941

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      Oktobar 7 years ago

      It is pathetic mike, when the west underestimate others. Remember Hitler did the same, and Germany succumbed. Never confuse poverty with weakness. Russia could have won the 'unthinkable' and everyone would be speaking Russian.

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      Wreck Smurfy 7 years ago

      Fascinating stuff, and thanks for posting it. Churchill was a vehement anti-Bolshevik right up until... 22 June 1941, when he suddenly flip-flopped, for obvious reasons.

      Given that, all major nations make contingency plans for all possible political/military future scenarios. "Unthinkable" was clearly one of these. Perhaps there were a few in the British gov't., maybe including Churchill himself, who were buying the hype that the 1945 Red Army was "ill-educated" and "ill-disciplined". The Nazis sold themselves the same hype in 1941, and look where that left them 4 years after. Never, ever, buy into your own hype.

      IMO, the 1945 Red Army would have wiped the floors with any western Allied force that tried to invade the USSR or its occupied territories, and the public of those western Allied countries would not possibly have stood for any such extension of the war. This was a non-starter from the get-go, and it pains me to see that Churchill ever even considered it.

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      Mike 7 years ago

      The USSR were supplied, armed and totally relied on the WEST to help Adolf Stalin. Operation Unthinkable should have been ordered. USSR/Russia has been the backbone hehind the spread of nukes through-out Asia. The cold war would have never happened. China and North Korea would be backing each other in arms and nukes. Poor call Freesong but you haven't a clue regarding history. Stalin was worse than Hitler to his own people. The only ones to bail him out were the USA and Briton. China, Iran, North Korea and even Pakistan nukes all came from your buddies in USSR. China supplied Iran, North Korea and even Pakistan nukes.

      USSR/Russia should have been next on the list 1945.

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      Churchil the war criminal 7 years ago

      Stalin should have pressed on and squashed the pile of shit called Britain - a bunch of useless, cowardly, trecherous Nazis. The Soviet Union saved the world including the pathetic pompous Brits from Hitler. This was thethanks the saviours were getting. Shocking.

    • freesongz profile image

      Varun Sharma 8 years ago

      Now this is a nice one! :)