Defector Reveals Russian War Plans
By Christopher Ruddy
For and The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
WASHINGTON - Russia cannot threaten the United States. She is poor. She is weak. She is starving. She is in chaos.
Think again, says Stanislav Lunev.
Col. Lunev is the highest ranking military intelligence officer ever to have defected from Russia. He did so in 1992 after the Soviet Union dissolved and Boris Yeltsin had come to power.
At the time of his defection Lunev was living in Washington with his wife, working a cover job as a journalist for TASS, the Russian news agency, while doing his real job: spying on America.
As a GRU officer Lunev's spying related to military matters: gathering information on America's military plans; reporting on U.S. vulnerabilities; devising special operations in the advent of war.
Last year, Lunev detailed just some of his activities in a new book he co-authored with Ira Winkler, "Through the Eyes of the Enemy: Russia's Highest Ranking Military Defector Reveals Why Russia is More Dangerous than Ever" (Regnery, (800) 639-7629).
The book is a light read with some sensational details about Russian plans to bring suitcase nuclear bombs into America and to use special forces to assassinate the president and congressional, military and other leaders during the initial phases of a war.
Lunev claims in "Through the Eyes of the Enemy" that Russian military leaders still view a war with the United States as "inevitable" and that the Cold War never really ended.
Save for some talk radio outlets and the Internet, Lunev's book got little media coverage. This comes as no surprise since most Americans believe the United States won the Cold War. Russia is not a threat and any suggestion that it is has to be written off as just paranoid jingoism.
Lunev is used to unfriendly receptions. When he did defect, higher-ups at the CIA and the Pentagon did not accept what he had to say.
What he said was rather simple. Russia is continuing its old ways. The military is still preparing for war against the United States. A nuclear war.
In the era of fuzzy warm feelings between the United States and Russia, American officials were not going to upset the applecart no matter how much evidence Lunev offered.
In the intervening years, Russia has appeared to further disintegrate. Can she really be a threat? skeptics ask. Lunev most certainly has been proven wrong.
Lunev says think again. He retorts that Russia still retains a formidable military-industrial complex. She is one of the world's largest arms exporters. She makes quality products and delivers them on time.
Russia continues to build nuclear submarines, bombers and missiles. Last year Yeltsin commissioned Peter the Great, the largest ballistic missile cruiser ever built by mankind. This past Christmas, Russia deployed a regiment of 10 Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles, missiles reportedly more sophisticated than anything we have. Just last month, Russia unveiled her stealth bomber. The New York Times reports Russia continues to build huge underground bunkers, some as large as cities, in case of war. She also continues to build an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. Russia's nuclear arsenal remains the world's largest. She continues testing of her nuclear weapons.
Such facts demonstrate that Lunev, who refuses to be photographed for security reasons, is not to be dismissed.
Ruddy: Colonel Lunev, you were first and foremost a spy for Russia who posed as a journalist. In your book you discuss the help you received from American journalists. How significant was the Russian penetration of the American press corps? How many American journalists were working for Russia?
Lunev: In my book I talk about myself. Keep this in mind, when I worked in TASS' Washington bureau, I had two colleagues from the KGB also working as agents.
So we had plenty of people undercover working as journalists. How many people they recruited? I don't know. But I can tell you that journalists, American journalists and foreign journalists in this country, were considered a major target. They were the same level of target as military, government personnel or Capitol Hill staff.
Ruddy: When you say targets, you mean?
Lunev: Recruits.
Ruddy: It has been acknowledged that the East German government had as many as 5,000 spies working for it in West Germany.
Lunev: East German intelligence was very successful. Very successful. I don't know exactly how many people they recruited, but they were very successful. Not only in penetrations through Western Germany and the European establishment, but through American institutions located in Western Europe.
Ruddy: What do you think the degree of penetration is of the U.S. government by communist or former communist countries in the CIA, the FBI, and State Department?
Lunev: It could be hundreds. But I don't know the exact number.
Recently the FBI admitted there were a couple of hundred open cases of espionage they were investigating. These are the ones they know about. So you can multiply this number by many times to guess the number of people who are working as spies whom the government does not know about.
Ruddy: You were not only a spy, but a military intelligence officer. Your work involved developing military plans and learning of other countries' plans. What did you study when you were in military schools in Russia?
Lunev: We had a lot of special subjects we needed to learn, including military science. We learned basic ways of commanding armies and how to conduct military operations.
Ruddy: How much of your training and education was geared toward fighting a nuclear war?
Lunev: All of our educational process and training was connected to the actual fulfillment of military plans in time of a nuclear war.
Ruddy: Your book suggests that the whole Russian military structure, the whole society during the Soviet era was geared for a nuclear war, and that has not changed under the new regime.
Lunev: Yes. The Soviet plan was the use of strategic forces to destroy strategic targets in America and the West, followed by the use of nuclear and conventional forces. This was the Soviet way, and the Russian military still thinks the same way today. They are much more dangerous now because the Russian military is relying more on their nuclear weapons.
Ruddy: What about a first strike on the United States?
The likely plan does not include use of missiles first. First the Russians would use their special operation forces, special troops, inside of the United States to destroy targets like communications facilities, airfields, command centers, and other targets that might be difficult to destroy with a missile attack.
Suitcase nuclear bombs at strategic locations are just one small part of their arsenal. I mentioned this in my book and I have been so surprised that the American public is so interested in this. Why? This is not something unusual for Russian military plans.
Ruddy: One of your jobs here in the U.S. as a spy was to look for locations to hook up these suitcase nukes to electric power sources.
It's not really necessary to have an electric power source because the devices can work on a battery. But not for very long.
Ruddy: Are there such bombs in the United States already?
Lunev: It's possible.
Ruddy: How soon could this war come?
Lunev: The Russian conventional forces are not in a state of readiness. Their rocket and nuclear forces are. This war scenario could be in place by the request of Russian government in a short time.
Russia is a country on the edge of social explosion. The total decline of living conditions: human, industrial, political, social, and now the financial crisis. This could lead to war.
Ruddy: It's dangerous because the Russians may consider their only option is to use the "gun." At the same time, the United States has been destroying its nuclear forces.
Lunev: Yes! I am sorry, but let me ask you, what's going on in this country? Right now the Russians are engaging in criminal extortion for money. This is the same method criminals use. Every other day, in conversations with Western leaders, the Russians are saying "show me the money or something dangerous will happen in my country with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads." It's extortion.
There could be an explosion, a catastrophe. It could happen in Russia, and somebody like a major general or a one-star general or colonel will come to power without any international experience. If such a person would come to power, pushing the nuclear button would be no problem.
Ruddy: If that happened, how long would it take for a strong leader to get the conventional forces ready if he wanted to start a nuclear war against the United States?
Lunev: A few months. You have to remember that the Russians have the same number of submarines, nuclear missile submarines, ships, bombers, fighters, tanks and the like as they did at the height of Soviet military power. I know that Russian military downswing was connected with Army divisions only, and these divisions could be rebuilt in weeks or months.
Ruddy: China also is moving closer to Russia. China has the largest conventional army in the world. What danger does that pose?
Lunev: If China and Russia would ally in a war against the United States, with Russia providing the strategic weapons and China the troops, they could begin the war tomorrow.
Ruddy: Recent press reports state that the Russians have been helping the Chinese develop ballistic missile technology.
Lunev: I would say that actually the Chinese missile industry was created by the Soviet Union, by Soviet specialists, by Soviet technology and by education of Chinese engineers and scientists in Soviet institutions. So the Soviet Union, let's say, played the major role in the establishment of the Chinese missile industry. But this was in the '50s before the Sino-Russia split. This split was healed in the late 1980s and any ideological obstacle for helping China was removed. China, of course, pays big money to Russia for this technology.
Ruddy: Well, it does seem that some steps the Russians are taking suggest war preparations. They are building a huge underground complex in the Ural Mountains. Have you heard about that?
Lunev: You ask about Yamantau Mountain. Well, this is a huge underground city which could be used in time when many Russian cities are destroyed, but the military and political elite will survive and live until our planet will try to restore itself.
Ruddy: The American military is downsizing because there is no Warsaw Pact. We have let down our defenses. If the Russians were to launch a first strike, a surprise attack against the United States, they could wipe us almost off the map. European countries like Britain and France have small nuclear arsenals. If the U.S. does not exist, Russia rules the world because after an attack, she will still have a huge nuclear arsenal.
Lunev: Yes.
Ruddy: Is it possible that the Russian Communists planned this? That the intelligence agencies and the military establishment said, "Hey, if we give up Eastern Europe, if we throw open the economy, democratize, allow the country to seem in chaos, the Americans will let down their guard. We can get them to reduce their strategic nuclear forces, and they won't think of us as a threat."
Lunev: I believe there was a plan. I cannot prove it to you. It is my hunch this is what happened. This is based on my experiences, things I saw going on. Because now, six years later, it looks like it was planned, but at that time we didn't have any idea that it was possible to plan all this activity.
Ruddy: Well, it seems to me the most important information you have is that the Cold War isn't over: that the Russian military believes inevitably that there will be a war with the United States.
Lunev: In April of 1998, Russia used its strategic bombers in an exercise against the United States. These exercises were organized for the future war against America. Before that there were several nuclear exercises.
In the fall of 1998, President Yeltsin commissioned Peter the Great, the world's largest nuclear missile cruiser. They have been doing ground forces exercises. Airborne force exercises. All of these exercises are being conducted for a reason, for the future war against America.
Ruddy: What do you think are the chances, I know this is highly speculative, that there will be a nuclear global war between Russia and the United States within the next five years?
Lunev: I need to repeat myself. In a time of social explosion in Russia, nobody can exclude the possibility that it will begin. Preparations for this nuclear war are now being made in Russia.
Ruddy: Would the Russian people support such a war?
Lunev: In recent years and times, the feelings of the Russian people toward America have begun to change. The Russian people believe the United States is giving money to the corrupt Russian government, which never helps the ordinary Russians. America has identified herself so strongly with Yeltsin, and now Yeltsin and his government are viewed as corrupt.
There is a perception that America, who destroyed the old Soviet Union, is again trying to destroy Russia.
Ruddy: A former American general, Benjamin Partin, suggested that if, after the Allies had beaten Hitler in World War II, and the new German government was filled with ex-Nazis in the Cabinet, ex-Nazis in the military, ex-Nazis in the private businesses, would we believe we won? General Partin notes that in today's Russia, ex-Communists, many high-level Soviet officials, run most of the government and private businesses. Most of the republics are run by former Communists.
Lunev: Well, almost all, yes. General Partin is correct in his concerns.
Ruddy: It appears that in 1917 when the Communists came to power in Russia, they were not much more than organized crime figures.
Lunev: Yes, they are the same. They are together. There is no difference.
Ruddy: It seems this permanent government will be always seeking domination, whether official or through organized crime means.
Lunev: And you are right, but how will you sell this idea to America?
Ruddy: You can't sell it to America, because they believe all the bad guys just gave up with the end of the Cold War. One day it was all over, we won. End of story.
Lunev: You should know this did not happen in one day, like on Christmas Day of 1991 when Gorbachev dissolved the Soviet Union. A long time before this the KGB began to transfer Communist Party money to private accounts under the names of different people in Western countries.
At the same time the KGB moved some of their very experienced people, including generals, sometimes four-star generals, into the new private businesses being formed in Russia. For example, former KGB agents joined financial and industrial groups. Since they had intelligence backgrounds, they could be placed in various positions, like vice president in charge of personnel or foreign operations.
The KGB established these private accounts, controlled by their own people using money from the CCCP - the Communist Party assets - for the future, for the future restoration of communism.
Ruddy: The power of organized crime in Russia developed so quickly. What role did the KGB play in its rise to power?
Lunev: The KGB and the old-line Communists needed to use criminals in this phase because who had experience in money laundering? Who has connections with drug cartels? With other organized crime groups in Western countries? The KGB worked closely with these groups and actually provided passports and permission for criminals to travel abroad.
Organized crime in Russia has existed for a long time, as long as anyone can remember. Yet the criminals never played any sufficient or important role in Russian or Soviet society until the so-called reforms were begun under Gorbachev.
Ruddy: You mentioned earlier that the KGB transferred funds outside of Russia for the future restoration of the Communist Party.
Lunev: Yes, for the future.
Ruddy: So people are thinking in terms of restoring the Communist Party there?
Lunev: Yes, I think that they made plans to bring back the Communists. The Politburo accomplished this at the end of the 1980s and the early '90s when millions, if not billions, of dollars from Communist Party accounts were transferred by KGB officers with assistance and help from criminals.
------------- "Those who hope that we shall move away from the socialist path will be greatly disappointed. Every part of our program of fully based on the principle of more socialism and more democracy." -Mikhail Gorbachev Perestroika, New Thinking for Our Country and the World 1988