Since its establishment a hundred years ago, at the dawn of Bolshevik rule, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Moscow’s General Staff—GRU for short—has been the shadowiest of the Kremlin’s spy agencies. While the KGB was known worldwide, its military counterpart remained off-limits to outsiders, shrouded in speculation and mystery. We in the West still know very little about GRU’s Cold War secret operations, unlike the KGB’s, much less what its spies hiding behind their black bat logo are up to these days.
Left untouched by the Soviet collapse in 1991 (there wasn’t even a name change), GRU remains a top-secret espionage empire that spans the globe, with human and technical intelligence capabilities stretching far beyond Russia. A purely foreign intelligence agency, GRU dwarfs its civilian rival, the SVR, in size and capabilities. Like the SVR, it employs spies abroad who masquerade as diplomats, as well as operatives working without official cover, what Moscow terms Illegals.
Recent developments demonstrate that GRU played a clandestine role in the election of Donald Trump. Last week, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating the White House’s Kremlin connections, released a court filing relating to the imminent sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a London attorney who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and a shadowy figure termed “Person A.” Per the court filing:
That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel’s Office assess that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016. During his first interview with the Special Counsel’s Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU.
To anyone acquainted with the Trump investigation, Person A is obviously Konstantin Kilimnik, a close friend and protégé of Paul Manafort (Trump’s campaign manager in mid-2016), who has admitted he was once a Russian intelligence officer working for GRU. Our media went into overdrive, hailing this as the “most direct line to date” between President Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin. One must ask: Where have they been?
Read the rest at The Observer ….