Those Were Simpler Times: How the Russians Tried to Spy on Reagan

The Kremlin wanted Ronald Reagan defeated. Soviet leaders worried with some justification that he would start a war. Reagan waged his 1980 campaign with such red-meat Cold War rhetoric that the London branch of the KGB warned Moscow that Reagan, if he won the election, might launch a preemptive nuclear strike early in his presidency. A long period of détente between the two super powers had ended when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan over the Christmas holidays in 1979, undermining President Jimmy Carter’s bid for reelection as critics labeled him weak and naïve. Reagan ran a campaign saying it was time to get tough on the Soviets. Russian operatives were desperate to get a read on Reagan, sought inroads with the young campaign aides who would be heading to the White House if Reagan won.