Russian Intelligence and Current News
Due to an increase in Russian military on the Ukraine border, the Black Sea and in Crimea, soviet intelligence is frequently mentioned on the news. There is no way to be certain if Putin is interested in increasing Russian territories or intimidation. Approximately 120,000 troops including heavy equipment, modern aircraft, and military vehicles have been deployed near Ukraine.
Europe is now facing the most major military crisis since Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014. Soviet intelligence in Libya, Syria, Belarus and Georgia is ensuring a difficult life for diplomats. The aggressiveness of these intelligence agencies throughout North America snd Europe has been fairly well documented on the news. After the conclusion of an investigation lasting seven years, the Czech Republic has taken action.
Although some sources are unwilling to provide documentation regarding Russian intelligence, western sites are not among them. The result of this investigation was 18 Russian diplomats expelled by the Czech Republic due to an ammunition depot located close to Vrbetice established through GRU military intelligence. The GRU is one of the main intelligence agencies of the Russian Federation.
The Russian operatives proven to participate in sabotage used identical aliases as the agents using chemical weapons against a former spy in 2018. The resulting explosion killed two Czech citizens. Once enough evidence was collected, the Czechs decided the Russians went beyond a normal gathering of intelligence and declared their actions state terrorism. The response of the government was the removal of Rosatom, the nuclear energy supplier from Russian. This supplier was removed from the contract bidders for a nuclear plant.
Unmasking Russian Hybrid Operations
Despite playing innocent, Moscow becomes aggressive when foreign hybrid operations are revealed. Due to a disproportionate reaction, 20 Czech diplomats were expelled resulting in the paralysis of the small Czech embassy. The Czech government is currently deciding whether additional Russian diplomats should be expelled to even the playing field between the Russian Prague embassy and the Czech Moscow embassy.
An appeal has been made by the Czech Foreign Minister to the European Union for support. The 2018 Salisbury precedent when 200 Russian diplomats were expelled throughout North America and Europe due to an alliance between NATO and EU allies was involved. The Czech Republic incident is one of many involving allied countries targeted by Soviet intelligence including the GRU and SVR, the foreign counterpart.
Soviet Cyber Attacks and Election Interference
GRU and SVU intelligence was behind cyberattacks perpetrated last year against the United States. These destructive attacks affected more than 13 United States federal agencies and 80 American companies. The software management systems for Solar Winds were hacked by the Russians. The Russians have also been caught in attempts at hacking the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons organization.
Interference accusations have been made against the GRU and SVR regarding elections in the United States, Moldova, and Macedonia. The Russians were accused of collusion with Serb intelligence five years ago for a failed coup. After aggressive Soviet intelligence operations were revealed, Russian diplomats were expelled from Poland and Bulgaria. Russia targeted crucial infrastructures in an attempt to destabilize societies by influencing political campaigns.
Some organizations understand the brazenness and reach of Russian intelligence including SovietIntelligence.com. The President of France has declared EU countries must draw a red line against using intelligence gathering and diplomatic missions to cover up coercion and destructive political interference.
Diplomatic Responses and Sanctions
Throughout history, the US and transatlantic allies reserved diplomatic responses and sanctions for acts of aggression involving the military. Once Crimea was annexed by Russia, new economic sanctions were imposed on the Soviet Union. This includes inhibiting transfers of technology in the deep sea drilling and energy sectors. Specific state enterprises were also sanctioned including food processing. Limitations were placed on Russian financial and banking transactions and exports.
For the last seven years, the EU has reviewed these sanctions in addition to an annual review by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The response has been much less harsh for Soviet intelligence operations inside both EU and NATO member states. Magnitsky laws have been passed due to Russian tax authority fraud including shaking down foreign companies in Russia. Sanctions have since been imposed on Russian entities and state officials for abuse of human rights.
The list of Russian officials with frozen assets and visa bans in Europe and North America continues to increase. Data available through social media is being used to determine the identity of Soviet intelligence agents. This information is intended to connect these agents to the location and timing of attacks. Agents directly implicated have been shamed by numerous countries. The issue is once they have returned to Russia, extradition is not possible and many are granted immunity.
Due to the history of Russian intelligence against the United States, the Biden administration has issued a response. The cyberattack on Solar Winds, 2020 United States election interference, manipulating polling party data from United States political parties and the belief a bounty was placed on United States troops stationed in Afghanistan were taken into consideration. The result was extremely tough sanctions against Russia.
Not only were 10 Russian diplomats expelled from missions in Washington and New York, but sanctions went into effect against eight Russian companies. Access is now limited to the sovereign debt market for Russia and United States banks for non-rouble and rouble currencies. Moscow will find it more difficult to raise finances or float bonds overseas. The United States is now ready to perpetrate cyberattacks against Russia.
President Biden issued an executive order providing room for additional economic sanctions against Russian intelligence if Russia does not desist specific activities based on intelligence. The last straw seems to be the sophistication and reach of the cyber intrusion on Solar Winds. The attack lasted for a year, a wide range of United States entities were attacked and Moscow obtained sensitive data. In addition to punishing Russia, Washington proved the United States is also capable of disruptions.
The offer of a summit was made to Putin by Biden. The intention was to show a pragmatic relationship is possible between the United States and Russia. There is an excellent chance Putin will remain in power for a long time with no changes in behavior. Diplomacy should not be offered to reward good behavior or diplomats will not be able to complete their work. Biden has simply informed Russian intelligence agents the United States will not tolerate this type of behavior but is willing to cooperate in other areas.
Russian Intelligence Agencies
During communist times, Soviet intelligence agents were attributed to the KGB. It made no difference whether these agents were suppressing dissidents in Russia or infiltrating powerful countries abroad. At this time, most people were unaware of the existence of the GRU. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, GRU became the prominent Russian intelligence agency and is currently still flourishing.
The United Kingdom blames the GRU for the nerve agent attack against Salisbury in 2018. This involved the poisoning of a former officer of the GRU and his daughter living in Britain at the time. The United States blames Russian for destructive cyberattacks. Operatives of the GRU are believed to have participated in conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
More recently, connections have been established by the Czech Republic authorities regarding the two GRU agents allegedly responsible for the Salisbury attack. The deadly blast on the arms depot occurred in 2014. PakistaniIntelligence.com has revealed facts about the GRU. First, the GRU is a formal Russian military intelligence agency established over 200 years ago.
The agency was reorganized after the 1917 Russian revolution and in 1942 officially became the GRU. This was during the Second World War. The agency gathered intelligence information on both Germany and all allies of the country. During the time of the Cold War, the GRU penetrated the atom bomb program of Britain. Not only does the GRU run agents, but it also has special ops commandos with missions including sabotage and reconnaissance.
The GRU is active all over the world and responsible for spearheading the 1979 Afghanistan invasion. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, there was a split in the KGB secret police resulting in the FSB domestic version and the SVR foreign service. Despite this division, the GRU was still intact. In 2010 the name was changed to the GU or Main Directorate but the acronym, GRU remained.
According to a United States Congress report, the GRU is classified as a powerful, expansive and large organization. Very little information is available regarding the specific operations and size. The Russian Defense Ministry briefly mentions the role of the GRU, but there is no official website for the GRU itself. The ministry has stated the purpose of the GRU is to successfully implement the security and defense of policies of Russia.
The ministry also provides intelligence to officials to enable knowledgeable economic, technical, political, defense and environmental decisions. The GRU is encased in a tremendous amount of secrecy. This secrecy is so great, when the sudden death of Igor Sergun occurred in 2016, the place of death and cause were not revealed by the Kremlin in the original announcement.
The GRU Today
Sergun is a Russian official placed on the United States and European Union sanction lists after Crimea was annexed from Russia in 2014. The EU placed the responsibility of rebel support by GRU officers during the bloody conflict in east Ukraine on Sergun. According to the security analysts, Sergun was responsible for increasing the ranks of the GRU after drastic cuts were enforced.
While on Ukraine ground, the efforts of the agency in Ukraine were more efficient than that of the FSB. Igor Girkin was one of the top rebel commanders. His alias is Strelkov. The EU made accusations Girkin was an operative of the GRU. He was then added to the sanctions list. The death of Sergun occurred before significant changes were made to secret operations believed to be instigated through the GRU.
This included the hacking of campaigns for both the United States Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Hilary Clinton in 2016. During this time, private communications were released in the tens of thousands in an attempt to discredit a candidate Russia believed to be hostile. Eventually, charges were made by the justice department including the involvement of 12 Russians believed to be GRU officers regarding the cyber attack.
The response of the Kremlin was no evidence was available showing a link between the 12 accused Russians, hacking, and military intelligence. If operations were instigated by Russia against United States Democrats and Ukraine operations, the presumed goals of the Russians were accomplished. To this day, control of the territory in question located in east Ukraine is in possession of the Russians. The 2016 election was won by Donald Trump and not by Hilary Clinton.
Some of the other operations believed to be committed by Soviet intelligence were failures. Due to the death of a woman, the operation in Salisbury had deadly consequences.
The two operatives from the GRU allegedly sent to the United Kingdom did not succeed in the assassination of their presumed target. Instead of killing Sergei Skripal, the operatives left evidence behind as though they were amateurs. Some believe the disregard for CCTV cameras was a deliberate act to inform the world Russia will take substantial risks to pursue security for the country. Skripal received a conviction of treason and was imprisoned in Russia. In 2010, his release was secured with a spy swap.
During the same year the attack occurred in Salisbury, four additional agents were suspected of being members of the GRU. They were caught while in the Netherlands attempting to hack the chemical weapons watchdog wi-fi network. The ensuing investigation included the chemical attack taking place in Syria and the Skripal poisoning. These incidents also resulted in evidence being left behind both online and on paper. The Dutch authorities allowed the agents to return to Russia.