Approved – NV
2 Hours Ago, Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Revelations of an alleged Russian intelligence operation to murder opponents and spread chaos across the European Union were met with a mix of wonder and derision in the intelligence community. Russia’s decision to return to formalized violent operations in the West has “proven they can get to anyone,” a source told Insider. But in many cases, the Russians’ sloppy tradecraft has meant their “secret” operations are almost immediately noticed.
Two current European intelligence officials described the scoop by the New York Times about a unit of Russian military intelligence, commonly called the GRU, tasked with murdering Russia’s enemies in Europe and helping sow political and military chaos, as “credible.” It’s “confirmation of something we have long suspected: There is a plan,” one told Insider.
The NY Times piece, which ran Tuesday, used a mix of open-source documentation and intelligence gathered across Europe in the wake of half a dozen killings to determine that many of the international incidents involving Russia involve “Unit 29155” of the GRU, a previously unknown unit. It appears to be specifically tasked with irregular operations directed at Europe, including a failed coup in Montenegro and the attempted poisonings of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and a GRU defector in Salisbury, England.
Russia has been re-fighting the Cold War since 2008
The intelligence officials said confirmation of a long-time suspicion that these operations were centrally organized had only come in the past few months and was a tightly guarded secret among NATO and EU intelligence services. They had been monitoring the unit, and past cases or incidents, for connections.
“It’s been clear since 2008 at least that Russia was reconstituting modern versions of units and techniques they considered useful during the Cold War era,” said one intelligence official, who is based in Brussels and does not have permission to openly discuss the issue with the media.