Operation InfeKtion: How Russia Perfected the Art of War | NYT Opinion
NYT: top-secret GRU unit conducts active operations against Western countries
According to the New York Times, military unit 29155 has existed for at least ten years, but its activities in the West became known only recently.
The first was a campaign to destabilize Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria, and then an attempted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt on the life of a former Russian spy in the UK using a nerve agent.
According to the New York Times, Western intelligence agencies have concluded that these and possibly many other operations are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe by an elite Russian intelligence unit trained to subvert, sabotage and carry out assassinations..
The unit, known as military unit 29155, has been active for at least ten years, but it was only recently discovered in the West, the newspaper said. Intelligence officials from four countries said they were unaware of how often this part was used. According to them, it is impossible to know when and where her operatives will strike..
The appointment of part 29155, which was not previously reported, underlines how actively Russian President Vladimir Putin is fighting the West using the means of the so-called hybrid war – propaganda, hacker attacks and disinformation – as well as open military confrontation..
“I think we forgot how naturally ruthless Russians can be,” Peter Zwak, a retired military intelligence officer and former military attaché at the US Embassy in Moscow, told the newspaper that he didn’t know about the.
Hidden behind the concrete walls of the headquarters of the 161st Special Forces Training Center in eastern Moscow, the military unit is subordinate to the Main Directorate of the General Staff, also known as the GRU..
According to American officials, a few months before the presidential elections in the United States, two cyber operations of the GRU, known as units 26165 and 74455, hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s headquarters, after which they published sensitive internal correspondence..
Last year, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, indicted more than 10 officers from these units, but they are all still at large, the newspaper notes..
In contrast, officers from Unit 29155 travel to and from European countries, according to the New York Times. Some of them have received awards for their participation in some of the bloodiest wars that Russia has fought, including in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Ukraine. According to Western intelligence services, the unit’s activities are so classified that even other GRU officers are probably not aware of its existence..
The New York Times suggests that this section is a very close-knit team. The photograph taken in 2017 shows the commander of the unit, Major General Andrei Averyanov, at his daughter’s wedding.
Dressed in a gray suit with a bow tie, he poses with Colonel Anatoly Chepiga – one of two officers charged in the UK with the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.
“This unit of the GRU has been operating throughout Europe for several years now,” an employee of one of the European intelligence services said in an interview with the New York Times, which was held on condition of anonymity, as it touched upon secret intelligence issues..
“It’s amazing that the Russians, the GRU, this part felt free enough to take these extremely malicious actions in friendly countries. It came as a shock, “he added..
The current commander of the unit, General Averyanov, graduated from the Tashkent Military Academy in Soviet Uzbekistan in 1988, the newspaper writes. It is likely that he fought in both the first and second wars in Chechnya. He was nominated for the title of Hero of Russia, the country’s highest award, in January 2015.
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