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Intelligence and Counterintelligence

KGB intelligence gathering in the West increased markedly after the era of détente began in 1972. Détente permitted a vast influx of Soviet and East European diplomatic, cultural, and commercial officials into the United States and other Western countries. KGB officers and their East European counterparts operated under various guises, posing as diplomats, trade officials, journalists, scientists, and students. The proportion of Soviet citizens abroad who were engaged in intelligence gathering was estimated to range from 30 to 40 percent in the United States to over 50 percent in some Third World countries. In addition, many Soviet representatives who were not intelligence officers were nevertheless given some sort of assignment by the KGB.

Apparently, the First Chief Directorate had little trouble recruiting personnel for its foreign operations. The high salaries, military rank, access to foreign currency, and opportunity to live abroad offered attractive enticements to young people choosing a career. First Chief Directorate recruits were usually graduates of prestigious higher education institutions and had knowledge of one or more foreign languages. The KGB had a two-year postgraduate training course for these recruits at its Higher Intelligence School located near Moscow. The curriculum included the use of ciphers, arms and sabotage training, history and economics according to Marxist-Leninist theory, CPSU history, law, and foreign languages.

The KGB was the primary agency responsible for supplying the Kremlin with foreign intelligence. According to former Soviet diplomat Arkady Shevchenko, Moscow cabled out questions on a daily basis to KGB rezidenty abroad to guide them in their tasks. In addition to political intelligence, KGB officers concentrated increasingly on efforts to acquire advanced Western technology.

The KGB reportedly acted as a collector of militarily significant Western technology (in the form of documents and hardware) on behalf of the Military Industrial Commission of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. This commission coordinated the development of all Soviet weapons systems, along with the program to acquire Western technology, and it levied requirements among the KGB, the Main Intelligence Directorate, and several other agencies, including those of East European intelligence services. The KGB and the GRU increased their technical collection efforts considerably in the early 1980s, when the number of requirements levied on them by the Military Industrial Commission rose by about 50 percent.

Sex and money were the main handles for the KGB's recruitment of foreigners. During the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact countries used sex as a key weapon against Western targets. No longer the stuff of Mara Hari, the Soviet Union's KGB and East Germany's Stasi in particular took "sexspionage" to ncw limits. The Communists trained male and female agents, known as "ravens" and "swallows," respectively, to attract unsuspecting Western politicians, scientists, intelligence and military personnel, and even secretaries. Taking advantage of basic human vulnerabilities, the Russians and their allies used these "Romeo" operations to extract some of the West's most sensitive secrets. Some overt homosexuals were kept on the payroll for their obvious operational attractions. Being overt, they cannot be blackmailed for their homosexuality.

Western intelligence services were not oblivious to the fact that sexual entrapment was a two-edged sword that could also be used against the Soviets. The West's efforts at sexual blackmail, however, proved generally halfhearted and unsophisticated.

The Andropov era saw a greater orientation in the KGB toward electronic espionage--communications intercepts and satellites--to supplement intelligence gathered by agents. According to Robert Campbell, the Soviet Union deployed at least three satellites for intelligence collection. Some of the intelligence may have been strictly military and therefore collected by the GRU, but the KGB reportedly also made use of these satellites.

The sharp fall in oil prices at the end of the 1970s and the restrictions on high technology transfer overseen by COCOM made the Soviet situation even more acute . Looking through Chekist eyes, however, all these developments were solely the result of Western hostile actions. As Andropov put it in 1983: "I would like to say about one of the specifics of the operative situation. I am talking about the subversive actions of the enemy in the sphere of the economy. They are evident in the efforts to create difficulties in the national economy, to slow the rate of industrial growth, and to conceal the most important achievements of the scientific-technical revolution from us."

Georgy Tsinev, the First Deputy of the KGB Chairman at that time, added : "It would not be a mistake to say that the Reagan Administration practically began an economic war against us. By driving the Soviet Union into "enforceable participation" in a new round of the arms race, its goal is to hamper us in the solution of problems linked with the development of Soviet society, to constrain the USSR's ability to make an economic impact on the development of international relations and has in mind [seeing] a growth of difficulties in our national economy and the emergence of pockets of tension."

In the 1980s, the KGB experienced several devastating blows, which eventually prepared the turf for its defeat and dismantling, but not complete exit from the historical arena. The first blow was the discovery of deep penetration by the CIA, MI6, and the other Western services into the KGB's most sensitive elements, as well as into the GRU (military intelligence), and leading Soviet political, military and scientific institutions. When the KGB found out about this, thanks to the treason of high-ranking CIA mole Aldrich Ames, it experienced a state of mind close to shock.

In the words of Philipp Bobkov: "Being busy with the penetration of foreign special services, we did not allow even the slightest suggestion that a Western agent might be inserted into us ... The exposure of several KGB staffers, such as Politschuk, Motorin, Varennik, Yuzhin had been perceive d by us as an unbelievable catastrophe. . . Yes, it was our defeats that meant the loss of the Cold War. We were reluctant to tell the people about these failures and, therefore, lost the right to speak about the mistakes of others."

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Page last modified: 10-05-2018 15:25:09 ZULU