Declassified CIA images show how the US spied on fearsome Soviet weapons during parades

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  • According to the National Security Archives, the CIA used to spy on the Soviet Union in broad daylight at the nation's military parades.
  • The archives have collected declassified images that were taken at ceremonies marking national holidays like May Day and the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • The parades were perfect settings for spies to collect intelligence on the Soviet Union, which was normally much more secretive about displaying its military capabilities.
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The fascinating images provide insight about what type of information spies were collecting during the Cold War.

The fascinating images provide insight about what type of information spies were collecting during the Cold War.

The images were taken mostly of Soviet weapons, including missiles, self-propelled guns, and launching platforms.

The images were taken mostly of Soviet weapons, including missiles, self-propelled guns, and launching platforms.

Some images were labeled with the date, classification, and event.

Some images were labeled with the date, classification, and event.

Each photo was also labeled with the latitude and longitude, and in some cases a vague description of the source.

Each photo was also labeled with the latitude and longitude, and in some cases a vague description of the source.

This formerly confidential image shows truck-mounted rocket launchers.

This formerly confidential image shows truck-mounted rocket launchers.

Ground-launched surface-to-air missiles pass by as the band plays during the 1961 May Day parade.

Ground-launched surface-to-air missiles pass by as the band plays during the 1961 May Day parade.

This photo was labeled, 'Exempt from automatic downgrading and declassification.'

This photo was labeled, 'Exempt from automatic downgrading and declassification.'

According to a CIA memo, the SS-9 premiered during a Moscow parade in 1967.

This image from the 49th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution shows typical Soviet propaganda in Red Square.

This image from the 49th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution shows typical Soviet propaganda in Red Square.

This photo appears to be mislabeled.

The ABM-1 Galosh was an anti-ballistic missile defense system arranged to protect Moscow.

ABM-X-2 is the nomenclature for project Aurora, an apparently unsuccessful attempt to expand the Galosh system.

Whoever was taking these photos seemed to have a front-row seat.

Whoever was taking these photos seemed to have a front-row seat.

Although these images were clearly geared towards the weapons systems, it's just as interesting to see the scenery and propaganda of the era.

Although these images were clearly geared towards the weapons systems, it's just as interesting to see the scenery and propaganda of the era.
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