- 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
- 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.