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Centennial GRU

  In the eyes of the outside world, the GRU is one of the most mysterious and efficient military intelligence agencies in human history. Over the years, GRU has left a lot of indistinguishable legends and confusing stories to the world. It is said that during the Great Patriotic War, the GRU obtained thousands of high-level intelligence on Nazi Germany, including Germany’s economic strength, raw material supply, military production, weapons and equipment, as well as army mobilization and combat plans, and even the combat orders issued by Hitler himself. All fell into Stalin’s hands. German Chief of General Staff Franz Halder testified in a military court after the war: “At that time, in the German High Command, any campaign action plan was decided by the High Command before it was printed. Someone betrayed to the enemy. During the entire war, we failed to plug this loophole.”
  During the Cold War, similar legends were even more magical, and Western counterintelligence agencies took all Soviet expatriate business personnel as GRUs The agent stared. In the 1970s, a delegation of aviation experts from the Soviet Union was invited to visit large aviation companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the United States. Immediately, there was information that these visitors were wearing special clothes that could stick metal sheets from the ground of aircraft manufacturing and assembly workshops. Shoes, and analysis of the metal sheet after returning, can help the Soviet Union to determine the alloy composition required for the production of large military transport aircraft. As for GRU’s subordinate special forces, there are rumors of all kinds of ferocious and terrifying actions and incredible combat effectiveness. And what kind of institution is the real GRU?
  As we all know, GRU is the Russian acronym for the General Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. On November 2, 2018, GRU celebrated its 100th anniversary. Russian President Vladimir Putin went to the GRU headquarters to attend the commemorative activities and delivered a speech: “As the supreme commander, it is no exaggeration to say that I fully understand your unique capabilities, including special operations.” Putin earnestly “I have full confidence in your professionalism, boldness and decisiveness that each of you will do everything that the country and the people demand,” he said.
  The “unique ability” dates back a hundred years to the Soviet-Russian Civil War. In June 1918, the Eastern Front Army of the Red Army of the Soviet Union first established a military intelligence agency. Soon the subordinate armies of the Eastern Front Army and other front armies established the same organization, responsible for military intelligence work, and responsible to the staff at the same level. Within a few months, the corresponding registration department was generally established in all troops above the regiment level of the Soviet Red Army. At the suggestion of Trotsky, on October 21, 1918, Lenin signed an order to formally establish the Registration Department under the Field Staff Department of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Republic to lead the military intelligence work on all fronts of the Red Army in a unified manner. Simon Ivanovich Aranov was the first minister. The legend of GRU was born from then on, and November 5th every year is designated as GRU’s founding anniversary. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this day became the statutory day of the military scouts of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
  In 1920, the Soviet-Polish War broke out, and the Soviet-Russian Red Army finally defeated the city of Warsaw, which was related to the ineffectiveness of military intelligence work. Coupled with overlapping functions and chaotic organization, the registration department needs to be rectified urgently. In February 1921, the General Staff of the Red Army was formally established, and the Registration Department was reorganized into the Second Department of the General Staff of the Red Army. Also in this year, the famous Jan Karlovich Berzin was appointed to preside over military intelligence work. From 1925 to 1926, he promoted the second reorganization of the military intelligence department. The original registration department was officially named the fourth department of the Red Army General Staff Department, that is, the intelligence department. The name of the abbreviation of “GRU” began.
  Later, the GRU has undergone several adjustments and reorganizations, and it was not until 1949 that the direct relationship with the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces was fully established. But no matter how it was changed, the abbreviated name “GRU” has never changed, and GRU has always maintained the style of unified leadership of the military intelligence departments of the Red Army at all levels at the beginning of its establishment. The term “GRU” is actually a general term for all military intelligence agencies of the Soviet Army, referring not only to the General Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, but also to the military intelligence units of the military regions of the Soviet Army (including today’s Russian Army) and the subordinate units of the military regions at all levels. From this perspective, the GRU is not just an organization, but a symbol, representing what Putin calls “unique ability” and “professionalism, boldness, and decisiveness.”
  It is generally believed that Berzin has made great contributions to the forging of “unique abilities”. As we all know, Putin himself was born in the KGB. He must have heard a rumor that has been around for many years: in the KGB headquarters in Lubyanka Square in Moscow, there are many portraits of Soviet reconnaissance heroes, and the only person who is not in the KGB system is GRU. System of Berzin. Berzin is a Latvian who was exiled to Siberia by the Tsarist government in his early years for participating in revolutionary activities. After the victory of the October Revolution, he also worked in the Latvian Soviet regime. Under the appointment of Lenin, Berzin completed the reorganization of GRU and opened the legend of GRU. In the era when Berzin led the GRU, the senior staff of the GRU were basically his old comrades in Latvia in his early years, and the GRU at that time was named “Latvian Gang”. Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky, who led the Cheka at that time, was a Polish, and the senior staff of the Cheka were basically his old comrades in Poland in his early years, so the Cheka at that time was named “Polish Gang”.
  In addition to complementing each other in terms of nicknames, the two also overlapped in the scope of intelligence work at that time, and there was no strict division of responsibilities. The GRU collects both military and political intelligence. Berzin put an original idea into practice, which was soon imitated by the Cheka – to select some reliable people from the left-wing revolutionary youth of Europe and the United States, and give them a special mission, that is, special soldiers working for the Soviets, let them be The public identity has been latent for a long time, collecting various kinds of intelligence. After the implementation of this strategy, great results were obtained, which gave the Soviet Union many opportunities in the complex international situation from the 1930s to the Cold War period, and achieved a glorious era of the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence work.
  Among the spies trained and developed by the GRU led by Berzin, there are many dazzling names. For example, Dr. Sorge, the head of the “Ramza” intelligence team, who used classified information to assist the Soviet Red Army to restore the war situation at the critical moment of the Great Patriotic War to defend Moscow was recruited by Berzin himself. Sorge’s Far East Intelligence Network was established under the planning of Berzin and Gruu. In addition, there are also the “Treber” intelligence team operating in France, Belgium and other countries during World War II, the “Rado” intelligence team operating in neutral Switzerland, and the famous German “Red Symphony Orchestra”. The intelligence work was carried out under the planning of Erzin and GRU. During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Berzin was appointed head of the Soviet military delegation in the government of the Spanish Republic. Unfortunately, a year later the Soviet Union launched a major purge, and Berzin was recalled to the country. He knew that there was a lot of misfortune, but he resolutely returned to China with his loyalty to the Soviets. In May 1938, Berzin was arrested and unfortunately executed two months later.
  Although Berzin died, the legend he created has continued. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s important spies lurking in the West, such as the British “Cambridge Five” represented by Kim Philby, and Gunter Guillaume, secretary of Federal German Chancellor Brandt, all have a close relationship with the GRU. association. After all, the responsibilities of the GRU and the KGB were more clearly demarcated by then. To borrow the words of a GRU agent who defected to the West in the 1980s: “The function of the KGB can be expressed in one sentence, that is, to not let the Soviet Union collapse from within. The function of the GRU can be compared in one sentence but the meaning is completely different. It can be expressed in words: to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union due to foreign attacks.” In other words, GRU’s shadow was present in all the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence work during the Cold War.

  The intelligence collected by the GRU is quite broad and differs in emphasis from the KGB. In addition to foreign military intelligence, the GRU also collects information on technologies, energy, industrial and agricultural potential, and strategic resources that are military-related or potentially used by countries. In 1967, the headquarters of NATO moved to Brussels, the capital of Belgium, and the Soviet Union spent $2.5 million to build the Skalkia-Volga automobile assembly plant near the new NATO headquarters building. Western counterintelligence agencies lamented that radio listening antennas were sticking out of the roof of the new factory, and GRU agents were roaming around as sales representatives. In 1971, a GRU agent defected from Brussels and identified 32 GRU agents to Western counterintelligence agencies, most of them under the cover of the Skarkia-Volga car assembly plant and the Brussels office of the Soviet General Administration of Civil Aviation . It is generally believed that in the 1970s and 1980s, the espionage cases in which the Soviet Union acquired cutting-edge technology from Western countries, such as the “Toshiba case” which acquired precision machine tool technology from Japan, and the “Ariane case” which acquired rocket technology from Europe, etc. GRU single-handedly executed. In this respect, Putin participated in the collection of scientific and technological intelligence in East Germany during the Cold War. Although he belongs to the KGB, his work content seems to be closer to that of the GRU.
  The existence of the GRU during the Cold War was not made public, and the outside world could only get a glimpse of it from the memoirs published by former GRU agents who defected to the West. The complex organizational structure of the GRU and its overseas network of operations have never been known. To be sure, the GRU’s secrecy level is above the KGB. The headquarters of GRU is located at No. 19 Cnamensky Street in Moscow. It is said that even the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union must undergo security inspections here. In the 1980s, the West estimated that the GRU headquarters had 5,000 staff. But GRU’s functions are extremely extensive, and the West estimates that its functions in the United States need to be completed by about 15 different military intelligence units with a total number of more than 100,000. Therefore, it is generally believed in the West that 5,000 people are only the tip of the iceberg of the total size of the GRU. The real size of the GRU may never be known to the world.
  Unlike the KGB, the GRU did not sink when the Soviet Union collapsed. As a result of participating in the “819 coup” against Gorbachev, the KGB was disbanded and split, and it took several adjustments to form today’s FSB. The GRU name has been retained and has always played an important role in the armed forces of the Russian Federation. It is generally believed that on April 21, 1996, it was the GRU special forces that provided precision strike guidance on the spot, allowing two Russian Su-27 fighter jets to launch missiles and successfully kill the Chechen rebel leader Du who was talking on a mobile phone. Dayev. In the past ten years, the actions to eradicate other Chechen rebel leaders, such as Basayev and Mashadov, are basically believed by the outside world to be related to the GRU. At the end of 2015, five Russian special forces were killed in combat operations in Syria. Although the Russian official once denied it, it is widely believed that the identity of these victims was GRU soldiers.
  On November 5, 2006, the 88th anniversary of the establishment of GRU, the new GRU headquarters was officially opened. This new GRU headquarters in downtown Moscow took 3 and a half years to build, with a total of 9 floors, covering an area of ​​70,000 square meters and costing about 9.5 billion rubles. Nickname for the “Glass Fish Tank” of Ruwu’s old headquarters. On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin took a helicopter and landed at the helicopter landing pad on the top floor of GRU’s new headquarters, and came to inspect in person. Putin said frankly: “Five years ago, it was difficult for us to raise funds for such a huge project. But I think we did the right thing. Today, we can say with pride and confidence that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has The Ministry of Intelligence has one of the best complexes and it is no exaggeration to say that it has the most sophisticated facilities of any intelligence service in any country.”
  The most impressive scene of the day was that Putin, who was from the KGB, had a shooting training at the shooting range of the new headquarters of the GRU. Putin used the Makarov pistol and the Stechkin automatic pistol to shoot successively. He was highly focused when shooting, staring at the distant target with his eyes, and his firearm operation was professional, showing the true qualities of an early agent. As a result, with Putin’s tough tactics, GRU has frequently exerted efforts around the world. Western media are keen to describe it like this: Every morning, on the desk of the Russian Defense Minister, a stack of regional situation analysis reports sent by GRU officers from all over the world will be neatly placed, and the most important ones will be sent directly to the Kremlin. The palace provides a reference for high-level decision-making, and the head of the GRU can report directly to the Russian president.
  The specific front-line action pioneers are often the special operations forces under the GRU. The special forces under the GRU are undoubtedly the most dazzling stars in the Russian army, just like the Alpha Force under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Its specific organization and tasks are still a mystery today. But what is certain is that from the two Chechen wars to the “little green men” in Crimea, to the mysterious forces in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, to the unfinished Syrian civil war, there are GRU special forces. figure. In his Centenary speech in 2018, Putin fully affirmed the role of the GRU in Syria over the past few years, pointing out that the GRU provided crucial target information and other intelligence for the Russian military to fight against Syrian extremist groups.
  GRU’s public exposure has increased in recent years. In the first half of 2018, the mysterious Skripal nerve agent case occurred in the United Kingdom. Western media and intelligence agencies produced various evidences, insisting that it was the work of GRU agents. Together with former U.S. President Trump’s “Russia” (the so-called Russian interference in the French election through the Internet) and even Russia’s “cyber warfare” against some countries, all of them are considered to be related to GRU. Russia has dismissed the allegations on the one hand, and there have been rumors of Putin’s dissatisfaction with the GRU director, General Igor Korobov, on the other. Igor Korobov did not attend the centennial celebration of the GRU. On November 22, 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that General Igor Korobov had died at the age of 62 “after a long struggle with serious illness”. Russians mourned the passing of the veteran of the intelligence front and winner of the “Hero of the Russian Federation”.
  But in any case, Putin’s confidence in the GRU remains unchanged. In fact, today’s “GRU” is more of a media and folk name. In 2010, GRU underwent another round of adjustment. The official name was changed from the General Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to the General Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, without the word “intelligence”. In response, Putin proposed in his 2018 celebration speech: “We don’t understand where the word ‘intelligence’ has gone, but intelligence is an indispensable and important part of military science. Why don’t we change the name back?” Putin’s intentions are all in it: the GRU’s name should not change, and the GRU’s mission and character will never change. This is the true character of GRU after a hundred years.

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