- General Gogol: "A common thief. A disgrace to the uniform."
- General Orlov: "Yes...but tomorrow, I shall be a hero of the Soviet Union."
- ―General Gogol and General Orlov[src]
In the film, he states that the Soviet Army divisions in East Germany are under his direct command, implying that he is commander-in-chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. He wears the rank insignia of a lieutenant general.
Orlov is a megalomaniacal Soviet General who believes that the Warsaw Pact has a decisive advantage over NATO in conventional military strength that is being tossed away by its leaders in détente. Rejecting their diplomacy, he advocates a massive military attack in Europe to seize dominance of the continent and call (what he thinks is) NATO's nuclear bluff. However, his proposal for a full-scale invasion of Europe is flatly rejected, with General Gogol being the loudest voice, in part because NATO would respond with nuclear strikes that would escalate the conflict to a global nuclear war. Gogol also seems to hold Orlov in contempt, feeling that his thirst for power is dangerous.
To eliminate that objection, Orlov's plan involves the detonation of an atomic bomb at a circus performance inside a United States Air Force base in West Germany. The effects of the bomb would be indistinguishable from American atomic bombs, and the explosion would be assumed to be an accident (as a nuclear strike would trigger the Air Force's early warning systems), prompting nuclear disarmament throughout the West and the East. Under Orlov's reasoning, with the nuclear factor taken out of the equation, the superior numbers of the Soviets would then be able to defeat the West without threat of nuclear reprisal, or even resistance, from NATO.
Orlov's accomplice in this scheme is Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince involved in jewelry smuggling. He pays Khan by stealing priceless Fabergé eggs from state depositories and replacing them with counterfeits. He gets Bond's attention when MI6 agent 009, who had been working undercover, is killed with one of the counterfeits in his possession in West Germany.
Bond eventually confronts Orlov and attempts to force him to stop the train carrying the bomb. When Russian troops intervene, Orlov escapes and pursues Bond to the border by car, and follows the route of the railway when Bond jumps from the car onto the train (he had positioned the wheels of a stolen car onto the tracks after its tires were punctured).
Orlov finally catches up with the train but is killed when he tries to jump onto the back of the circus train crossing the border between East and West Germany and is gunned down by soldiers guarding the border. By this point, General Gogol had discovered Orlov's role in the jewellery smuggling. As Gogol calls him "a disgrace to the uniform", Orlov utters his last words: "Yes, but tomorrow, I shall be a Hero of the Soviet Union," unaware that James Bond is about to foil the scheme.