New Developments In
Russian Espionage
Against The US
By Col. Stanislav Lunev
There are many strange aspects to American-Russian relations. Like the enabler of an addicted friend, the US will once again provide Russia with another money fix. No matter that prior US credit, loans, and other funds vanished before our eyes to mysteriously reappear in Western banks in the private accounts of so-called new Russians. As approved by the International Monetary Fund this present loan of $4.5 billion will come by way of credits from the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and other Western financial institutions. And this latest score by Russia will likely vanish just as quickly.
But while being showered with billions from the US taxpayer, the Russian Federation (RF) continues to intensify its intelligence operations against the US as well as against US friends and allies. This espionage activity, according to some US officials, has already reached Cold War levels. The Russian spy business has become so aggressive that last spring, for the first time since the collapse of the USSR, US officials had to expel a Russian intelligence officer who was working undercover at the United Nations and engaged in accessing classified US documents. It was the second incident of Russian spying to surface in six months. In the first incident a Russian officer, though not officially expelled, was denied re-entry to the US while away on vacation.
In retaliation the FSB (the Federal Security Service, successor to KGB domestic spying) expelled the US military attaché and curtailed contacts between Russian military and civilian personnel and Western officials. In addition, the FSB and SVR (successor to KGB foreign intelligence) organized a propaganda campaign accusing the US of spying more on Moscow than Moscow spies on the US - perhaps not realizing that this is itself a rather telling admission of guilt.
The Russian spy activity has reached such intensity that American officials met with former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who visited Washington at the end of July. As for his background, Stepashin is a former fire-fighter (his Master's dissertation was entitled "The Role of the Communist Party in Fire-Fighting") and is a past director general of the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (predecessor to the FSB) as well as the ex-minister of interior. At the meeting he openly admitted the espionage problem, exclaiming, "as long as states exist, there will always be special services, intelligence communities."
Stepashin did, then, have the courage to admit the problem and even proposed a dialogue between US officials and Vladimir Putin, then head of the Russian FSB and secretary of the Russian National Security Council. In so doing, however, Stepashin had trespassed into the arena of strategic affairs, the exclusive domain of the RF president. As a result, the president summarily fired Stepashin and replaced him with Putin, who is also chief initiator of the current anti-US espionage campaign.
Again, it cannot be over-emphasized or repeated enough that Russia has been pursuing its aggressive espionage against the US while it receives US aid and assistance. According to recent reports (Washington Times, 7/26/99) the FBI estimated that during the Cold War at least half the Soviet diplomats in Washington, New York, and San Francisco were spies. In terms of present numbers this means that half the 124 diplomats posted to the Russian Embassy in the US is engaged in intelligence. Official reports also indicate that scores more are operating out of the Russian mission to the UN. Russian agents also operate out of consulates in San Francisco and Seattle.
In a Washington newspaper, an unidentified US official accurately summarizes the situation, "They [Russian intelligence] are operating in full swing without missing a beat... In some cases they have the same KGB personnel here now who were working against us during the Soviet period."
And this espionage is not the result of unauthorized activities by the intelligence community. It is high-priority policy by the Russian government under personal direction of Pres. Boris Yeltsin himself, who in his official statements pretends to be a "best friend" to the US.
It is well known that during the Cold War Soviet intelligence worked hard to penetrate American security by recruiting US citizens both here and abroad. At the same time, the KGB and GRU planted so-called agents of influence in the US. Agents of influence are not real spies but served to influence US policy toward the former USSR, and they still serve now to do the same for Russia. Usually they are not privy to inside information about the secret operations of which they are part - operations, by the way, which are also under the direct command of Moscow and are designed to undermine American society from within.
Soviet intelligence used their own agents for their primary missions and assigned them to the KGB and GRU field offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco. The KGB agents worked under civilian cover as diplomats, trade specialists, press correspondents, university students, and members of various Soviet delegations. Additionally, the GRU agents worked in the US as Soviet military attaches and their deputies and assistants.
During the Cold War every third Soviet official in the US was, in reality, a KGB officer, and every other third official was a GRU officer. The remaining third was a so-called clean person, one who before coming to the US had signed a special agreement to cooperate with the KGB and GRU. This special ratio in the apportionment of agents in the US was ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the early 1950s and has been continued by all his successors.
In 1992 the same method was approved by President Yeltsin, who inherited the Soviet machinery and understood the effectiveness of its operation. Moreover, in a secret message to the Russian ambassador to the US, Yeltsin requested the ambassador's cooperation with Russian special services as well as that of other "clean" embassy personnel.
It was also Yeltsin who ordered Russian agents to intensify their spy activity and to provide Moscow with even more information on US political and military operations. His order was issued as an official government directive.
But not only were there no reductions in the number of agents in this country after the fall of the USSR, but the number has increased. During the last several years new Russian consulates have been opened which accommodate an increased intelligence presence. Then, too, "improved" relations between the two countries have afforded Russia an almost unlimited entry of agents under the cover of businessmen, students, technicians, immigrants...
Furthermore, in response to an RF presidential order of Feb. 7, 1996, there has been a substantial increase in industrial espionage in the US. This has, of course, entailed the widespread recruitment of people engaged in US commercial, banking, and other civilian enterprises. Recruitment for such espionage is easier than that for military espionage because no serious penalties are involved and obtaining the secrets is usually less difficult (except when military secrets are virtually handed to you by US policy and presidential directives).
It is important to note that Russian intelligence does not have a great interest in commercial secrets. The Russian criminal syndicates, however, desperately need this information and use their own people in government to bring about Russian intelligence activity in those US enterprises attractive to the Russian mobsters.
In view of these factors, the current Russian intelligence attack on America is more dangerous than ever before. Instead of moving forward to greater friendship with America, the RF is moving backward. The age of the false friendship is over, and the age of espionage once more dominates relations between the two countries. It is vital to US security to stop these dangerous developments as soon as possible. And there is an effective solution for doing this.
The usual proposal is to put a stop to the Russian intelligence assault by expelling all Russian officials known by American counterintelligence to be agents. However, this would prove ineffective because, first of all, the expelled agents would soon be replaced by new ones. Thus American counterintelligence would have to spend extra time and resources to rediscover who is and who isn't an agent among the new diplomats, journalists, engineers, etc.
Second of all, The GRU and SVR field offices in the US have contingency plans especially designed to keep their intelligence business going in the event of such expulsions. Expulsion would, then, merely lead to a temporary setback in the Russian espionage but not to its termination.
The only real solution can come from within Russia itself. The Russian government and its president are the only ones who can order a halt to the espionage assault. If Russia cannot exist without information from the US, then it must obtain this information by legal means. And America has a magic tool to accomplish this purpose if it will only use it. It need only say to Russia, and mean it: Stop the espionage, implement democratic reforms, crack down on the mafia, or else no money! It couldn't be simpler. US leaders must know this. Why do they hesitate?
Biography of Colonel Stanislav Lunev <