The unit is named ‘29155’. It has been active for at least 10 years, but has been identified only recently by the West.
This Russian elite unit concentrates on subversion, sabotage and assassination particularly aimed at Europe. Western intelligence has not yet been able to establish how often the unit is deployed and predict when and what the next target is to be.
It has been responsible for the poisoning of ex-Russian spy, Sergei Skripal in the UK, the poisoning of a weapons dealer in Bulgaria, the destabilization campaign in Moldovia and the attempted coup in Montenegro.
This year marks 80 years since a pivotal event that dramatically changed European history: the signing of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP) or “Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” on 23 August 1939. This development stunned the world since an alliance between Communism and Nazism had been inconceivable.
At the core of the MRP were its secret protocols declaring the Baltic States, Finland, eastern Poland and Bessarabia in Soviet Russia’s and the majority of Poland in Germany’s sphere of influence. The unrestrained military strengthening of Germany had already become a major problem in world politics by the late 1930s. With the signing of the MRP at onset of WWII, Eastern European countries found themselves caught between two aggressive totalitarian regimes.
European observers are convinced that Russia has been emboldened by its successful annexation of Crimea in 2014 and military incursion in Ukraine. Their heightened covert activity in Europe is a clear sign that Moscow sees its intelligence operations in Europe as politically advantageous.
Russia initiated a campaign of anti-Western subversion and propaganda at the same time, all intended to distract, disrupt and demoralize. The brazen but unprofessional attempt to poison ex-Russian GRU operative Sergei Skripal in England was a clear example of the new levels of aggression that Russia’s intelligence services have been instructed to deploy.
The following attributes have been used to describe the character or personality of a prominent American:
Dishonest, irresponsible, delusional, psychopath, cruel, liar, uneducated, unprincipled, irresponsible, racist, misogynist, childish, power hungry, mean, crooked, uncaring, stupid, treasonous, nasty, unfit, disloyal, self-serving, egotistical, vain, corrupt, immature, manipulative, arrogant, blowhard, inconsistent.
Deceitful, cheater, malicious, petty, inconsiderate, mean spirited, immoral, simpleton, irrational, insensitive, petty, unkind, uncouth, greedy, vindictive, power hungry, simpleminded, abusive, cheat, draft dodger, unethical, untrustworthy, self-centred, bully, vulgar, sleazy, untruthful, superficial, self-aggrandizer.
Vladimir Pool, in the last decades before the KGB was disbanded in 1991 specialized in counter-intelligence, at first as commander of the commercial/industrial/ sector, then the whole counterintelligence section.
This specialty probably demanded more surveillance activity than any other directorate of the KGB. A little vignette involving the activities of the surveillance unit:
Usually the identities of some intelligence and counterintelligence personnel are known to adversary services. The trick is to gather information about them without being detected.
While some two decades ago counter-intelligence relied substantially on the physical surveillance of targets, cyber technology innovations have drastically reduced the importance of ‘human tails’ in tracking suspected enemy operatives.
However following individuals by car has always been and will remain to be to a certain extent an important component of surveillance practice. The KGB had definite technical requirements that Soviet car manufacturers had to fulfill.
According to Vladimir Pool, the real identities of many KGB operatives were known to the public. As an example, in his position has the head of economic counter-intelligence, Pool had to openly deal with directors of industrial establishments to place KGB informers within their staff.
He held sessions with the personnel of institutions such as the Academy of Science to indoctrinate them about the importance of guarding secrets from foreigners – scientific, industrial, economic information that might benefit an adversary. He emphasized that not all scientists that visited Estonia were bona fide scholars. Amongst them would surely be a deep cover foreign spy, often tasked to recruit.
Vladimir Pool, former assistant director and head of counterintelligence of the KGB's Estonian section, has denied attempts by the KGB to recruit young students as informers.
However he does indicate that the KGB focused on certain students for an approach in the future. The KGB started to keep an eye on 'talented and athletic' young boys from grade eight on. The KGB had to be convinced after some years of watching the student whether the candidate was sufficiently suitable for recruitment
Of the vast network of agents/informants, some were sleepers, under deep cover, becoming active when required. Many of them received special schooling, often scheduled when they were called up for repeat training as part of their compulsory military service.
The vast network of agents, be they informants, trustees or individuals classified in several other categories in the Soviet Union and Russia, who collaborate with the Russian intelligence services domestically probably outnumber the foreigners who co-operate with the FSB/GRU/SVR today.
Russian recruiting guidelines for their intelligence personnel are a series of theoretical instructions that one must accurately follow or risk failure.
From their manual: “The recruitment of officers and agents of intelligence and other special services of capitalist states as well as members of anti-Soviet organizations is one way of intelligence penetration into intelligence agencies and agents of the enemy.”
It’s been obvious from the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s reign that Russia is obsessed with regaining its former control at least over the formerly Soviet-occupied areas.
To this end the political-economic cohesiveness of the European Union must be weakened, political unity within any one country disrupted, NATO’s expansion eastward blocked and military deployment close to its borders must be removed.
In helping to move toward these goals, social media campaigns, traditional propaganda, aggressive diplomacy are simply insufficient. Moscow needs assets on the ground to gain information and advance their cause.
Eesti Elu Nr. 26 - 3. juuli 2020 DIGILEHT
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