Baltic Approaches D+7 (16 July, 1987) Part II


The planned Warsaw Pact airborne and amphibious operations against Zealand were postponed once again on D+7. The focus of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces in the Baltic Sea region was fixed on Scandinavia, specifically the events taking place in Finland, and as the day progressed, Sweden as well. Through the morning, units of the Soviet Baltic Fleet were redeployed to cover the eastern Baltic and prepare for possible operations against Finnish naval forces. As the day drew on and Sweden’s navy’s dispositions became more unsettling, plans were updated to include the development. Sweden’s intentions remained well-hidden, however, its actions suggested Stockholm’s long held policy of neutrality could very well be coming to an end.

4th Air Army’s focal point shifted to the defense of the ports and airbases on the East German and Polish coastlines. A handful of harassment airstrikes were made against NATO airbases in Jutland, and some targets of opportunity at sea. The strikes did not cause significant damage or disrupt enemy operations a great deal, but they had not been expected to. AIRBALTAP returned the favor later in the afternoon with a pair of fighter sweeps that failed to draw many East German and Soviet MiGs out over the waters of the Baltic and into the trap.

The Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea took on added importance on D+7. ELINT, and radar data showed a heavy drop in NATO air and sea activity around the island. The discovery, as well as the increasing concern over Sweden prompted Baltic Military District commander General Colonel Viktor Grishin to determine the time had arrived to seize Bornholm and deny its future use to NATO, or even the Swedes. It became clear later in the afternoon that secret military agreements existed between Finland and Sweden. Who was to say that similar arrangements were not in place between Sweden and NATO? There was no large presence of Danish troops currently on the island at the moment. Reconnaissance flights shortly before dusk confirmed this. Even before the flights were even launched though, elements of the 7th Guards Airborne Division, and the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade were alerted and commenced preparations. Plans for an airborne landing on Bornholm at dawn on D+8 were underway.

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