Michael Burleigh at the Daily Mail offers a piece on the history and current activities of the Russian military intelligence organization the GRU.
The GRU may have been founded during the Russian Civil War a century ago, but today it has found favour with Vladimir Putin as the perfect organization to carry out his 21st century military tactics.
As we have seen in Ukraine, the US and in Salisbury, Russia is turning away from conventional displays of force and towards what has been dubbed ‘non-linear warfare’.
This uses a combination of covert special-forces operations, spying, cyber attacks and internet trolls to destabilize enemy nations. Because Russia always stops short of outright aggression, the West has struggled to come up with an effective response to this provocation.
It started as an intelligence-gathering agency for Trotsky’s Bolshevik Red Army, and Lenin insisted it remain separate from the other intelligence organization.
Today it still sits apart from the SVR, the external spying service, and the domestic FSB (the equivalents of Britain’s MI6 and MI5), which were created when the notorious KGB was split in 1991.
As a subordinate branch of Russia’s armed forces rather than a self-contained agency, the GRU answers to Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu and to Valeri Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff.
It is based in a headquarters nicknamed The Aquarium on an airbase near Moscow and is very large, deploying six times as many agents in foreign countries as the SVR. These are typically embedded in Russian embassies as military attaches and work on recruiting foreign double agents as well as monitoring military installations and new weapons systems.
It has its own special forces, known as Spetsnaz. The GRU in 1997 was believed to have 25,000 Spetsnaz special forces soldiers, such as these operating in Dagestan in September 1999 hunting for Islamic militants
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: If you want to learn more about the GRU, I suggest you read Viktor Suvorov's book Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy.