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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Border Troops

The mission of the Border Troops, which included 230,000 personnel in 1989, was to prevent unauthorized entry by foreigners into the Soviet Union and to keep Soviet citizens from leaving the country illegally (see Border Troops of the Committee for State Security , ch. 19). The troops patrolled clearly demarcated strips along Soviet state frontiers that contained antivehicle obstacles, fences, and barbed wire. The Border Troops used guard dogs, sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment and sensors, and helicopters perform their duties over vast, sparsely populated frontier regions.

The Border Troops also guarded the Soviet Union's oceanic frontiers. Its Maritime Border Troops operated within the twelvemile limit of Soviet territorial waters and were equipped with frigates, fast patrol boats, hydrofoils, helicopters, and light aircraft.

In wartime the Border Troops would become a frontline combat service. Stationed on the frontiers, Border Troops units absorbed the brunt of Nazi Germany's surprise invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and fought defensive actions against the German army. The Border Troops also saw combat action in 1969 in border clashes with Chinese soldiers on islands in the Ussuri River.

In addition to the Border Troops, the KGB had other troops engaged in military-related activities that are not mentioned in legislation governing the armed forces (see Internal Security Troops , ch. 19). The KGB controlled elite units that guard the highest party officials and stand a continuous ceremonial guard at the Lenin Mausoleum. The special KGB signal troops also operated communications linking the party with the Ministry of Defense and the major territorial commands. Another KGB armed force guarded sensitive military, scientific, and industrial installations in the Soviet Union and, until the late 1960s, controlled Soviet nuclear warhead stockpiles.

Data as of May 1989