Ustinov, Dmitry Fedorovich

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(1908-1984), marshal of the Soviet Union; Soviet minister of defense; member of the Politburo, leader of wartime production in the Soviet Union during World War II; Hero of the Soviet Union.

Dmitry Ustinov was born in Samara before the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1922, at the age of fourteen, he volunteered for service in the Red Army. In 1923 he was demobilized and attended a polytechnical institute in Makarev and then began to work in defense industry. A member of the emerging Soviet technical intelligentsia, he joined the Communist Party in 1927, graduated from the Military Mechanical Institute in 1934, and joined the Scientific-Technical Institute for Naval Artillery the same year. In 1937 he began work as a design engineer at the Bolshevik defense industry complex in Leningrad and in 1938 became the plant director. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union he was appointed people's commissar of armaments. In this capacity he played a leading role in organizing production of Soviet defense industries and was a leading member of Stalin's war cabinet, the State Committee of Defense. In 1944 he was promoted to the military rank of colonel-general. In the postwar period Ustinov continued his leadership of Soviet defense industries down to 1957. He held the posts of deputy chairman of the Council Ministers and first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1957 to 1965. From 1965 to 1976 he served in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, where he directed the activities of research institutions, design bureaus, and enterprises. Ustinov was a candidate member of the Politburo in 1976 and a Full Member from 1976 until his death in 1984. In April 1976 he was appointed minister of defense. During his tenure as minister, the Soviet Union began its ill-fated intervention in Afghanistan.

See also: brezhnev, leonid ilich; military, soviet and post-soviet; state defense committee; war economy


Barber, John, and Harrison, Mark. (1999). The Soviet Defence-Industry Complex from Stalin to Khrushchev. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gelman, Harry. (1984). The Brezhnev Politburo and the Decline of Détente. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Spielmann, Karl F. (1978). Analyzing Soviet Strategic Arms Decisions. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Ustinov, Dmitry. (1983). Serving the Country and the Communist Cause. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Jacob W. Kipp