Russian Electronic Spy Network
In Cuba Learning U.S. Secrets
By Virginia Young
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Scripps Howard News Service.
MIAMI (AP) - The Kremlin learned of U.S. battle plans for the Gulf War through its electronic spy network based in Cuba and now may be seeking information for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to published reports.
It once was "unheard of that Soviet intelligence agents would work for other countries," former Soviet military official Stanislav Lunev said in an interview published Friday in The Miami Herald. "But now it looks like they have begun to look for information in the interest of Saddam Hussein."
The Tampa Tribune published a similar story on March 15, also based on an interview with Lunev.
CIA spokesmen would not comment on the claims by Lunev, a colonel in Soviet military intelligence, known as GRU. Lunev defected in 1992, a year after the Gulf War and months after the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991.
Other U.S. intelligence experts told the Herald his description of Russia's Lourdes spy center in Cuba was accurate - and that he is considered credible.
However, Eugene J. Carroll Jr., a retired U.S. Navy rear admiral now with the Center for Defense Information think tank, said he was not so sure.
But, he added in an interview with the Tribune, "if they got a single thing of value, somebody in the U.S. ought to be court-martialed. We know their capabilities. We'd have to be stupid to put out anything sensitive they could intercept and interpret."
Lunev said he learned that Moscow knew of the war plans when his GRU bosses asked him to analyze possible U.S. strategies based on secret cables sent by Moscow to the Soviet Embassy in Washington in late 1990 and early 1991.
The cables summarized intercepts of U.S. communications, from the chatter of U.S. warplane pilots in flight to the private telephone conversations of soldiers and their families.
He said he knows the information in the cables came from Lourdes because of the coding, and because friends and officials at the GRU told him so when he vacationed in Moscow after the war.
Built by the GRU in the 1970s in a Havana suburb, Lourdes' antennas can reportedly pick up electronic signals - cellular, cordless or microwave phone calls, as well as CB and radios - up to 1,000 miles away. The U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East, is within range because it is based in Tampa.
Lourdes also receives intercepts by spy satellites, ships and planes in the Atlantic region. Lunev said there are 2,000 Russian staff members.
Lunev said GRU officials told him after the Gulf War that then-President Mikhail Gorbachev had decided not to give Iraq the U.S. intercepts.
But the Herald noted that relations between Russia and Iraq have improved since the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov as Boris Yeltsin's foreign minister. Primakov has known Saddam since 1969 and was Gorbachev's special envoy to Iraq during the Gulf War.

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