Inside the Secret World of Russia’s Cold War Mapmakers

Soviet military maps of American cities contained details that would be difficult to come by without people on the ground. EAST VIEW GEOSPATIAL

A MILITARY HELICOPTER was on the ground when Russell Guy arrived at the helipad near Tallinn, Estonia, with a briefcase filled with $250,000 in cash. The place made him uncomfortable. It didn’t look like a military base, not exactly, but there were men who looked like soldiers standing around. With guns.

The year was 1989. The Soviet Union was falling apart, and some of its military officers were busy selling off the pieces.

This article details one of the most ambitious—and secretive—cartographic endeavors of all time and how it came to light in the West. Continue reading at Wired, where it was originally published.

Author: Greg Miller

Greg is a science and technology journalist based in Portland, Oregon. Previously he was a senior writer at WIRED and a staff writer at Science. In addition to cartography, Greg has written extensively about neuroscience and other areas of biological, behavioral, and social science.

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