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Dr. Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov (Russian: Николай Степанович Соколов), was a Soviet rocket scientist who defected to the United States during the height of the Cold War. Prior to defecting, he was the director of the OKB-754 Design Bureau that was responsible for the creation of the nuclear-armed Shagohod tank. 


Early life and career

Nikolai Sokolov was born sometime during the mid 1900s to early 1910s.[1] In 1960, Sokolov participated in the Soviet Vostok program, designing the multi-engine cluster for the Vostok A-1 that sent Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to space on April 12, 1961. He wanted to keep investigating for the Soviet space program, but, instead, he was named the Chief Designer of the Secret Weapons Research Office for the Soviet Union. Because of this, he also entered an intense rivalry with fellow weapons developer Aleksandr Leonovitch Granin, although he was largely oblivious to the latter's hostility to him. In 1961, he began designing the Shagohod and its intermediate range nuclear weapons capabilities. However, he began to get scared of his own creation, worrying about the weapon he was developing and its consequences on the world, and thus decided to defect from the Soviet Union with his family.

In 1962, Major Zero organized a CIA operation to help Sokolov and his family defect to the United States. Sokolov's wife and child were successfully evacuated first, with Sokolov himself following separately afterwards. However, the two-week period of travel and the 500 mile distance to get him to West Berlin exhausted him, resulting in him being checked into a local hospital to recover. Unfortunately for Sokolov, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred one week later. On October 28, America and the Soviet Union reached a compromise: the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba, but in exchange the Americans had to surrender Sokolov over to the Russians.

Sokolov returned to OKB-754 and was forced to continue his work. Meanwhile, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's support steadily waned, and he became increasingly at odds with hawks in the Red Army and the provincial authorities. As a result, an extremist faction within the army intended to rally anti-government forces to overthrow Khrushchev, and then install Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin in his place. Fearing that Sokolov's new weapon would be seized by these forces, the rocket scientist was transferred to an abandoned factory in Rassvet, three miles to the south of OKB-754, under heavy KGB guard. The KGB was willing to do anything to keep the extremist faction from getting their hands on Sokolov, even if it meant killing him.

Operation Snake Eater

See also: Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater

In 1964, American intelligence discovered why the Soviets had needed Nikolai Sokolov to return, so the CIA planned to bring him back to the U.S.

In August 1964, FOX agent Naked Snake successfully infiltrated Tselinoyarsk and headed to Rassvet, where Snake found Sokolov burning documents relating to the Shagohod's development. Sokolov initially thought that Snake was one of Colonel Volgin's men from GRU, until Snake identified himself and own mission, as well as giving a personal message from Major Zero. Although the two succeeded in escaping the area, Snake was soon confronted by The Boss claiming to defect to the Soviet Union. After incapacitating Snake, Sokolov was abducted by The Boss's Cobra Unit, to take as a "gift" for Volgin, with whom they had allied with. Volgin's forces also kidnapped a supposed KGB operative named Tatyana believed to be Sokolov's lover.

Sokolov meets Naked Snake in Groznyj Grad.

A week later in September 1964, Sokolov was forced to complete the Shagohod prototype within Volgin's personal fortress. At a warehouse in Ponizovje, he attempted to put up some resistance, but was forced to comply when Volgin threatened Tatyana with torture. Major Ocelot also intimidated Sokolov in a game of Russian Roulette, though Ocelot would have killed the scientist had The Boss not intervened at the last moment. The following day, Sokolov handed the Shagohod's battle data over to Tatyana in Groznyj Grad, believing that Tatyana would take it back to Khrushchev. Tatyana then threatened him with her supposed kiss of death, demanding information on the Philosophers' Legacy, though Sokolov knew nothing of its whereabouts. Once Tatyana had departed, Naked Snake arrived shortly thereafter to rescue Sokolov once more, having disguised himself as Groznyj Grad's subcommander to access his holding area in the West Wing. Although the Shagohod had already been completed, Sokolov informed Snake that the tank could be destroyed by detonating the liquid fuel tanks connected to it, before the phase 2 testing could be undertaken. Just as Snake prepared to escort him to safety, Sokolov refused, believing that Khrushchev had abandoned him, and he would likely be sent to the gulags. He was also unwilling to flee to the United States, since he would then be made to work on America's weapons programs, and instead asked that Snake watch over his family. The two were soon interrupted by Volgin shooting Sokolov in the kneecaps with his Makarov, having no further use for the scientist, and eventually captured Snake with The Boss's help. Later on, Volgin brutally tortured Sokolov in an attempt to learn who he had given the Shagohod data to. Despite Tatyana pleaded desperately for this to stop, Volgin continued to beat Sokolov, apparently to his death.

Post-Snake Eater

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]

Unbeknownst to most people, Sokolov managed to survive with the help of a fake death pill, given to him earlier by the CIA.[2] He successfully escaped Groznyj Grad with the help of The Boss, though he was recaptured by the KGB and subsequently interred in a Russian prison camp. Sometime after 1964, Sokolov was freed from imprisonment by FOX agent Viper, then brought to the United States, where he was reunited with his family. While in America, Sokolov's fears came true, and he was made the lead engineer of the first official Metal Gear project, based on Granin's designs. Secretly, Sokolov planned to rebel against his own creation.

San Hieronymo Incident

Main article: San Hieronymo Incident

In 1970, Nikolai Sokolov was brought to the San Hieronymo Peninsula by Gene in order to complete the Intercontinental Ballistic Metal Gear, preceded by the test model Metal Gear RAXA. Unbeknownst to Gene, Sokolov secretly planned to rebel against the FOX commander, despite the gratitude he felt for his rescue from Russia. Sokolov was also confused as to why Gene had chosen the peninsula as the base for a proposed military nation. Though the on-site nuclear weapons were unused, and the abandoned personnel could be easily swayed, he knew that Gene could have easily taken over a U.S missile silo, housing more recent nuclear weapons, and manned by personnel of higher morale, if he truly intended to attack the Soviet Union.[3]

When Big Boss (Naked Snake) was captured and imprisoned on the peninsula by FOX, Sokolov saw this as his opportunity to rebel. After Snake escaped, and began gathering disillusioned personnel to resist Gene's ambitions, Sokolov contacted him under the name "Prividyenie" (Russian for Ghost). "Ghost" thanked Snake for "taking care of Volgin" six years earlier, and informed Snake that parts from Metal Gear were located on board a ship in the harbor. He also supplied information on Metal Gear's intended deployment via a modified Saturn V rocket, stolen by a Soviet spy in NASA, and requested that Snake get the original Saturn V blueprints for him.

Sokolov reveals himself to Big Boss after RAXA's destruction.

After Snake destroyed RAXA at an assembly plant, Sokolov emerged from the shadows and revealed that RAXA was had only been a test model, used as a decoy. Gene then realized that Sokolov was the one who had been feeding Snake information, someone not expected to do so. He was then taken prisoner by Gene, shortly after instigating the massacre of both his own troops and one member of Big Boss's resistance.

A spy unit later uncovered evidence on Sokolov's whereabouts, although they couldn't reveal more to Snake's forces due to the risk of blowing their cover. After Snake managed to procure the Saturn V blueprints at the silo entrance, Sokolov explained that they were actually the designs for Metal Gear's booster rocket, the theft of which would put a significant delay on its launch. He also revealed that he couldn't have Snake steal them sooner because he didn't want anyone to know that he was still working in weapons development, never mind the fact that he had been involved in Metal Gear's development. He also couldn't do it himself because he "lacked the guts", explaining why he ended up creating the Prividyenie alias. After learning his reasoning, Roy Campbell was indebted to him for supplying the information and allowed Sokolov to officially join their unit.[4] Later, as Snake attempted to disable Metal Gear, Sokolov assisted by radio, telling where its armor was weakest.

Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.


Sokolov during the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater.

Sokolov was inherently a peaceful man, and did not like creating inventions that would be used to cause destruction. It was largely because of this that he wished to defect from the Soviet Union. Despite his resolute desire to leave for the other side of the Iron Curtain, he nonetheless grew slightly disturbed about America when he learned that Naked Snake's mentor, The Boss, taught him fluent Russian.[5] Sokolov showed fear to his enemies but also presented courage, when Tatyana was being shocked by Colonel Volgin, Sokolov threatened that he would not work on the project if she was hurt, but was proven wrong when Colonel Volgin threatened him. He had no shame for what he did but had guilt that his gifts were being used to bring destruction to mankind. He loved his family and showed affection towards people who were being hurt by others.

He disliked the policies of the Soviet Union, although he nonetheless had enough positive views of Russia to be horrified at the possibility of it being attacked, which was part of his motivation for aiding Naked Snake in stopping Gene.

Sokolov disliked Major Raikov of GRU, with Zero advising that Naked Snake refrain from using the Raikov Mask when contacting Sokolov during the Virtuous Mission.

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]

Like Para-Medic and Sigint, Sokolov commented about rocket engineering and sci-fi movies pertaining to things related to nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, radiation, or unethical science (like Dr. Strangelove), as well as a novel and EVA, when called on the radio during the San Hieronymo Takeover.

Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

Notable technologies developed

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]
Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

Behind the scenes

Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov is a major character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, his rescue being the main mission objective in the Virtuous Mission, and one of the main objectives in Operation Snake Eater. Sokolov later returned in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

Metal Gear Solid 3

In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Sokolov's family photograph was originally intended to be shown during the Virtuous Mission briefing, as well as by Sokolov himself in the Virtuous Mission itself, but these instances were cut from the final version.[6] Sokolov and Snake were also to have spoken in actual Russian during their first meeting, but the creators, after Akio Ōtsuka asked if it was alright to record in Russian, decided to make it more similar to how Hollywood movies handle it.[6] Likewise, during their escape from Rassvet, a longer scene showing Sokolov attempting to mimic CQC was planned, although it is cut.[6]

The official Metal Gear Solid 3 website, as well as the BradyGames guide of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, incorrectly spells his middle name as "Stephanovich."

If the player decides to try to meet with Sokolov while wearing the Raikov mask, Sokolov will not let the player in and shout that he won't let them deliver him to Volgin or supply the Shagohod data, hinting that the reason why he hated Raikov was because of his affiliation to Volgin, and possibly that he believed Raikov was supposed to retrieve him.

In the Subsistence version of what would become Metal Gear Online, Sokolov could be unlocked as the playable "leader" of a KGB unit if the player within a KGB unit got the lowest score, a reference to the main game where the KGB had to guard Sokolov from GRU. He came equipped with stealth camouflage, he used the standard CQC takedown, and his salute was his attempted mimicry at Naked Snake's CQC stance during the Virtuous Mission.

Portable Ops recruitment

If given the option, the player can recruit Sokolov in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. This section details how to recruit him.

After rescuing Naked Snake from the Guest House, and assuming that a Spy Unit is already dispatched to the Harbor, a Spy Report will be received, explaining that there are leftover parts from the weapon. Snake then infiltrates the docked supply tanker and goes back to the crate that originally contained the ICBMG. Afterwards, Snake receives a call from Ghost. Ghost explains (albeit with difficulty) that he has technical new information: Snake already knew that the ICBMG is to be launched in a manner similar to an ICBM. However, in order to launch the ICBMG, its massive size requires a rocket booster that is more powerful than an ICBM or even a Soyuz Rocket. Ghost clarifies that it is to be launched by a modified Saturn V, the same rocket that was used to house the Apollo Lunar Module for the Apollo Mission.

This is because the Saturn V was the largest multi-stage rocket built by man, and while the rocket itself was made in America, the base was designed specifically for the Saturn V due to blueprints that were stolen from NASA by a Soviet Spy. He mentions that the blueprints for the Saturn V should still be on the peninsula, and asks Snake if he could recover the documents and deliver them to him. Snake isn't sure, as he thinks getting the documents won't stop Metal Gear, so he asks Ghost why he needs them. Ghost mentions they'd be useful for "something." Snake then guesses that "Ghost" might have an interest in Rocket Design, and he mentions that it would be understandable if this were Sokolov. Ghost then explains that it's not out of personal interest, but rather that if they were to find out how to stop Metal Gear, the sooner, the better. Snake then agrees, although he mentions that he cannot make any promises and will only search them out if time allows him. Ghost then thanks Snake.

Shortly after Null is defeated for the second and last time, Snake (or one of the soldiers) returns to the Power Substation and interrogates a Soviet soldier, to whom he reveals the frequency to a door: 145.62. The resistance then returns to the Silo Entrance, and used the frequency in the second building from the direct entrance to the Silo Complex, and discovered the Blueprints to the Saturn V rocket. Afterwards, a Spy Unit planted in the Plant sends a report about someone being locked up in the computer room. However, they cannot reveal any more details without blowing their cover.

The resistance then storms the Plant and arrives at the Computer Room of the Plant, discovering that the person locked in it is none other than Sokolov. Roy Campbell then asks if he is Sokolov, and after Sokolov confirms it, Roy Campbell then gives Sokolov the Saturn V documents. Sokolov then realizes that they did get the documents for him. Roy Campbell then asks him why he needed the Saturn V documents, anyways, as Sokolov was involved in developing the ICBMG, and thus had multiple chances to look at the blueprints for the Saturn V. Sokolov then explains that that's because the documents actually weren't of Saturn V. They only looked like the Saturn V documents: The documents were actually the schematics for the booster rocket for the ICBMG.

He also explains that, while the documents weren't absolutely essential, they were needed to speed the process along. Roy Campbell then realizes what Sokolov meant: If Snake hadn't procured the documents beforehand, the ICBMG would have been launched much sooner than it would have. Roy Campbell then asks Sokolov why he didn't tell him sooner. Sokolov explains that this is because, had the resistance looked at his documents closely, they would have seen his name among the designers, which causes Campbell to realize that this would mean that Snake would find out that Sokolov helped develop Metal Gear.

Sokolov explains that he didn't want anyone to know that he was still "dirtying his hands" in weapons development, period, never mind the fact that he was involved in developing a weapon based on the blueprints that Granin left behind, and he didn't have the guts to steal the schematics himself, despite his wanting to, hence why he assumed the identity of Ghost and used Snake to get the documents. Roy Campbell then realizes what he tried to do: In his own way, Sokolov was trying to prevent Metal Gear from being launched. Sokolov is surprised at Roy Campbell's remark, to which Campbell explains that they owe Sokolov, and they are glad to have him on board.

"Developer of the Shagohod and director of the Sokolov Design Bureau (OKB-754). After inventing a system that places multiple engines on a single rocket (multi-engine cluster) won him widespread acclaim, he was put in charge of his own secret design lab."
―Official description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus

According to his stats, Sokolov's SNS skill is 10, which ranks among the lowest Spy scores. However, he was able to successfully feed information to Naked Snake and his resistance, prior to his recruitment by the group, surprising even Gene when his actions were later discovered.

Unlike Para-Medic and Sigint, the only way to retain Sokolov's frequency is to not recruit him (as he abandons using the alias by the time of recruition).

In the strategy guide, only the Spy Report mission regarding extra parts for Metal Gear (where Sokolov, under the identity of Ghost, requests that Snake retrieve blueprints of the Saturn V) is covered.

Other appearances

Sokolov was mentioned in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, relating to the Shagohod.

He also appears as an officer character for the Mother Base Developer in the Ground Zeroes app. He is unlocked by obtaining 15+ rodent kills while connected to the app.





Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c "MGS3 Character Information" (leaked voice casting sheet) [1][2]
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database ("Ghost"), Kojima Productions (2008).
  3. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kojima Productions (2006).
    Sokolov, under the alias of Ghost, explains this during an optional radio conversation.
  4. ^ The recruiting of Sokolov itself is completely optional and where he is standing while relaying how to disable the ICBMG to Snake in the ending is not specified.
  5. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima Productions (2004)
    Dr. Nikolai Sokolov: By the way, your Russian is superb. Where did you learn to speak it? // Naked Snake: From my mentor [The Boss]. // Sokolov: Is that so? America is truly a frightening country. // Snake: Having second thoughts? // Sokolov: No. I have no love for this place. Let's go.
  6. ^ a b c