Joined the army, 1932, and the Communist Party, 1937. During World War II, chief-of-staff of a regiment, commander of armoured and mechanized troops on the Karelian front. Chief-of-staff, then 1st deputy commander of various military districts, 1955-1965.
Commander of the Leningrad military district, 1965-1967. Candidate member, 1966, full member of the Central Committee, 1968. From 1967,1st Deputy Minister of Defence.
Marshal, 1968. From the end of 1984, Soviet Defence Minister and a nonvoting member of the Politburo. In June 1987, removed and replaced by General Dimitrii Iazov after the violation of Soviet air space by the 19-year-old West German Matthias Rust, who landed his Cessna aircraft near the Kremlin.