Military Review

In the trenches of the cold war


We continue to publish materials on stories the creation and activities of our country's foreign intelligence service (INO – PGU – SVR), which celebrates its 95 anniversary this December. Today we will focus on its activities in the postwar period.

The defeat of fascist Germany and militarist Japan did not lead to an improvement in the international situation. The ruling circles of the countries - former allies of the USSR - did not want to put up with the global changes that had occurred. Trying to prevent further weakening of their positions, they embarked on the path of nuclear blackmail, the Cold War, the coalescence of aggressive military blocs and the unwinding of the arms race.


The efforts of official domestic and foreign historians assume that the Cold War began in March 1946, when former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in his famous Fulton speech, declared that Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain and called on Western civilization to declare “war on communism” ( 5 performance in March 1946 at Westminster College, located in the US city of Fulton, Missouri).

However, in fact, the Cold War (if we consider this term as a confrontation between the two leading countries of the West - Britain and the USA - and Soviet Russia) began in the mid-twenties of the last century. Moreover, until the spring of 1945, London played a leading role in it, and after the end of the Second World War - Washington. Based on this, we can assume that during the Second World War, Moscow, London and Washington concluded a kind of truce among themselves in order to jointly defeat Berlin. And immediately after the Victory, the aggressive policy of London and Washington against Moscow was resumed. This is evidenced by documents obtained by Soviet intelligence in that period.

So, already in June 1945, immediately after Nazi Germany was defeated and unconditionally capitulated, foreign intelligence sent Stalin a report from the chiefs of staff of Great Britain to Prime Minister Churchill, entitled Security of the British Empire. In this document, the Soviet Union, because of its support for national liberation movements in third world countries, was declared "the main opponent of Great Britain and the entire Western world." The authors of the document recommended the British government to carry out a series of foreign policy and military activities to prevent the restoration of the destroyed economy of the USSR.

British military plans were echoed by documents obtained by Soviet foreign intelligence in the United States. In memorandum No. 329 of 4 of September 1945 of the year, that is, the day after the official end of World War II and the surrender of Japan, the United States Joint Intelligence Committee aimed to “select approximately 20 of the most important targets suitable for strategic atomic bombing in the USSR and controlled by it territory. "

And in the memorandum of the Joint Committee of the Chiefs of Staff of the United States No. 1518, dated 9 of October 1945, it was stated that the basis of a preventive nuclear war against the USSR should be the destruction of its military-strategic potential.

Over the entire period of the Cold War, not a single Soviet aircraft invaded the US airspace, but over the territory of the Soviet Union, as, for example, Russian military commentator and expert Vladislav Shurygin shows, “over 50 years of confrontation more than 30 was shot down (!!!) US combat and reconnaissance aircraft. On the flight of one such reconnaissance aircraft "Lockheed W-2", piloted by the American pilot Francis Harry Powers and shot down over the Urals, the reader, as we see it, is well known.

In the air battles over our territory, we lost 5 combat aircraft, the Americans shot down several of our transport and passenger boards. In total, over 5 thousand of violations of our state border by American aircraft were recorded.

In the trenches of the cold war

George Blake. End of 1940's. Photo courtesy of the author


Before the Soviet foreign intelligence were put new tasks that it successfully solved. The volume of these tasks has increased significantly, the geography of its activities has expanded and began to cover the whole world. In the new conditions, the importance of the extracted intelligence has increased. It was extremely important to reveal the secret military-political plans of the United States and Britain in relation to the Soviet Union, to highlight the course of the Anglo-American talks regarding actions in case of a military confrontation with the USSR, the development of plans for rearmament, the creation of NATO and other military-political blocs. But the main task of foreign intelligence in the postwar years was to keep under review the preparation of a military attack on the Soviet Union using nuclear weapons. weapons. And such plans, as the information obtained by intelligence in those years shows, were actively developed by the military circles of the United States and England.

Along with this, the tasks were set for the information support of the current issues of the foreign policy of the Soviet state. Among them, for example, obtaining information about the plans of the Western powers on the German issue, coverage of crises related to the problems of West Berlin, the Middle East, the collapse of the colonial system.

To solve such important tasks, it was necessary to improve intelligence, its structure, the organization of its management and working methods. In 1947 – 1953, a restructuring of military and political intelligence took place, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of their activities and finding optimal forms of control in the face of growing confrontational tendencies.

30 of May 1947 of the Year The Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a resolution establishing the Information Committee (CI) under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, which was entrusted with the tasks of political, military and scientific and technical intelligence. The single intelligence agency was headed by Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, who was at that time deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers and at the same time foreign minister. His deputy, who was involved in the field of foreign intelligence, was appointed an experienced security officer, who in the past supervised the work of intelligence and counterintelligence units of the state security organs, Peter Vasilyevich Fedotov.

To guide the intelligence apparatus abroad, the so-called Institute of Main Residents was introduced into CI, which, as a rule, appointed ambassadors or envoys. The first such resident was the former employee of the NKVD INO Alexander Semenovich Panyushkin. From November 1947 to June 1952, he was the USSR Ambassador to the USA, being at the same time the main resident of foreign intelligence in this country.

However, time has shown that the unification of military and foreign intelligence services, which are so specific in their methods of activity, within the framework of one body, with all the advantages, made it difficult to manage their work. As early as January 1949, the government decided to withdraw military intelligence information from the Committee and return it to the Ministry of Defense.

In February, 1949, the CI was transferred under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry. Its head was the new Foreign Minister Andrei Yanuarevich Vyshinsky, and later - Deputy Foreign Minister Valerian Alexandrovich Zorin. Sergei Romanovich Savchenko, who previously headed the Ministry of State Security of Ukraine, became the first deputy chairman of the CI in charge of the current operational intelligence work. In November 1951, the government decided to unite foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence under the leadership of the Ministry of State Security and create uniform residencies abroad. The Information Committee at the USSR Foreign Ministry ceased to exist. Foreign intelligence became the First Main Directorate of the USSR Ministry of State Security.

At the end of 1940-x - the beginning of 1950-s, Soviet foreign intelligence conducted a series of successful operational activities. Let's stop on one of them.

Colonel-General A.M. Sakharov. Photo courtesy of the author


After the liberation of Italy from the fascists, Moscow sent to this country as a resident experienced and active intelligence officer Nikolai Mikhailovich Gorshkov. It was he, who had previously been on a business trip in Algeria, carried out a successful operation to attract French Phil Georges Pak, a prominent official from NATO headquarters, to cooperate with the Soviet foreign intelligence service of French Philby, a prominent official from General De Gaulle’s entourage.

For any foreign intelligence officer, just this episode alone would be enough to say with pride that his operational life was a success. But Nikolai Mikhailovich had many such episodes.

Gorshkov personally acquired a number of sources from which important political, scientific and technical information came from, which had significant defense and national economic significance: documentation on aircraft construction, samples of radio-controlled projectiles, materials on atomic reactors.

At the beginning of 1947, an orientation-task was received from Moscow in the Roman station regarding the new military equipment created by British specialists - an electronic anti-aircraft artillery projectile, which had a very high degree of destruction of moving targets at that time.

The station was tasked to obtain technical information about this projectile, which was code-named “Fight,” and, if possible, its samples. At first glance, the task of searching for a novelty in Italy, developed by the British and applied in practice while defending the territory of England, seemed almost a hopeless deed. However, the residency under the leadership of Gorshkov developed and successfully implemented Operation “Fight”. As early as September 1947, the resident reported on the assignment and sent drawings and relevant technical documentation to the Center, as well as samples of shells.

At the disposal of the Foreign Intelligence Hall, there is the conclusion of the chief designer of the leading Soviet defense research institute of that period, in which, in particular, it is emphasized that "obtaining a complete set of the sample ... largely contributed to reducing the development time of a similar model and the cost of its production" .

It should also be emphasized that, on the instructions of the Center, the Roman station, with the direct participation of Gorshkov, mined and sent to Moscow a complete set of drawings of the American B-29 bomber, which greatly contributed to the creation in the Soviet Union in the shortest possible time of its own means of delivering nuclear weapons.


In April 1953, a resident of the Secret Intelligence Service (ICU) in Seoul George Blake returned to London. Back in the spring of 1951, he, on his own initiative, for ideological reasons, began to cooperate with Soviet foreign intelligence.

Soon, J. Blake was appointed deputy chief of the newly created British Intelligence Division, shortly before this, which had the codename "Igrek". This department was engaged in technical operations with the use of eavesdropping techniques. His staff tapped telephone conversations of Soviet diplomats and military personnel who worked in the Soviet regional center in Vienna, as well as in other European countries.

Austria was elected the main field of technical operations of British intelligence against Soviet institutions. The head of the SIS Vienna residency, Peter Lunn, came to the leadership of British intelligence with a proposal to try to connect to the lines of communication of Soviet military units and institutions in the occupation zone of the USSR in Austria and record all ongoing conversations, and then select information of interest. This operation received in English intelligence code name "Silver."

The premises of the British military police, located not far from the Soviet zone, were chosen as the point of connection to the Soviet communication lines. SIS specialists developed a plan of operation, which included carrying out a tunnel from the police basement in the form of a tunnel and organizing an listening post with the necessary equipment. Soon the tunnel was dug. Two British intelligence officers who spoke Russian arrived in Vienna. By the end of 1952, Operation Silver was further developed: the British connected another two communication cables to Soviet troops in Austria. In the Vienna station of SIS, a whole team of translators worked on the processing of the information received.

Naturally, taking up the new post and familiarizing himself with the activities of his department, J. Blake immediately informed his Soviet curators of all the details of Operation Silver. Moscow decided to immediately restructure the entire military communications system in the Soviet occupation zone in Vienna. In 1953, British intelligence was forced to curtail Operation Silver due to its futility.

By that time, the resident of the SIS Vienna point, Peter Lunn, was transferred to work in West Berlin, where he headed the largest British intelligence station in Western Europe at that time.

Upon arrival at the new duty station, Lannes decided to study the question of conducting an operational-technical event, similar to Operation Silver, with regard to the communication lines of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSVG). However, the planned operation was much more difficult than the Austrian. For its implementation it was necessary to dig a tunnel with a length of about 550 meters, which was impossible without US financial assistance.

CIA experts, informed on this issue, willingly agreed to finance this costly operation. Technical equipment for her pledged to put the British side. The significance of this intelligence operation is indicated by its code name - “Gold”.

In December, 1953, in London, a top-secret meeting of representatives of the American and British intelligence services was held, attended by J. Blake. The meeting discussed the details of the operation "Gold". The information received was extremely important, so Blake immediately met with his Soviet supervisor and gave him detailed information about the upcoming operation.

So, from the very beginning, the joint British-American operational-technical operation came under the full control of the Soviet special services. They actively used the current situation to convey directional information and disinformation to American and English “listeners”. It is hardly necessary to say that the operation “Gold” did not bring significant dividends to the intelligence services of the USA and England.

However, the preparation of misinformation takes time and cost, it is almost impossible to saturate the line with it alone. Termination of any negotiations with information useful to the enemy would inevitably be suspicious. And so in 1956, Soviet intelligence carried out a spectacular operation to “accidentally” open the tunnel.

GSVG signalers during the maintenance work in Berlin allegedly accidentally discovered a tunnel. A scandal broke out. The Soviet government declared a “strong protest” to the American and British authorities. But even after the failure of Operation Gold, the British and American intelligence services were confident that all this happened by chance.


In March, 1954, the plenary session of the Central Committee of the CPSU made a detailed decision on ways to improve the activities of state security agencies, a radical restructuring of their work, the eradication of previously used illegal methods, on reliance on the public, on the control of state and party bodies. At the same time, by the decision of the government, the State Security Committee at the Council of Ministers of the USSR was formed. Foreign Intelligence entered into its structure as the First Main Directorate (PGU of the KGB under the USSR Council of Ministers).

Important for intelligence was the decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU on June 30 1954 "On measures to strengthen the intelligence work of state security agencies abroad." It was proposed to focus on intelligence organizations in the main countries of the West - the United States and Britain, as well as in "countries actively used by them to fight against the Soviet Union, primarily West Germany, France, Austria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Japan."

The Council of Ministers approved the Regulations on the First Main Directorate of the KGB, which enshrined its right to conduct intelligence activities abroad, determined the structure of foreign intelligence, its functions, tasks, staffing. The relevant departments were obliged to provide PSU with cover positions both abroad and within the USSR, to render assistance, to strictly follow the conspiracy requirements. The regulatory documents adopted in 1954 for many years served as the main legal basis for the work of foreign intelligence.

In June 1955, Alexander Sakharovsky was appointed acting head of the Soviet foreign intelligence service. In May 1956, he was confirmed as the head of intelligence and worked in this position for more than 15 years.

The natural mind of Alexander Mikhailovich and his intelligence talent, the ability of a major leader and organizer, the ability to see the most important things and the right placement of cadres contributed to the successful solution of the most important intelligence tasks. It was under Sakharov that such intelligence lines as counterintelligence, scientific and technical, and illegal were actively developed. He paid much attention to the training of intelligence personnel, the organization of research work at the Perm State University.

Sakharovsky knew personally many of the intelligence officers, their abilities and capabilities, was attentive to subordinates, did not suppress them by the height of his position, but prompted thoughts and initiative to work. In critical cases, A.M. Sakharovsky did his best to return his comrades in trouble to his homeland. It is enough to recall William Fisher (Rudolf Abel), Konon the Young, as well as the spouses Morris and Leontin Cohen, who later became Heroes of Russia.


The second half of the 50 of the XX century is the height of the Cold War. On the one hand, it is the intensification of the military-political blocs of NATO, CENTO, SEATO created at the initiative of the United States; crisis situations in the Middle East in 1956 – 1967; Hungarian 1956 events of the year; the prolonged Berlin crisis; 1962 Caribbean Crisis of the Year; Czechoslovak 1968 events of the year. On the other hand, during the same period, approaches to defusing international tensions took shape.

Listing the events of that period, it is impossible not to mention, at least in a few words, about the Berlin crisis of 1958 – 1961.

The climax of this crisis was the event, which in the early morning of August 24, 1961, the apparatus of the authorized KGB in the GDR informed the Center by urgent telephone message. In it, in particular, it was reported: “On the afternoon of August 23 in West Berlin, divisions of the American, British and French troops were advanced to the sectoral border, respectively. At the border are Tanks, armored personnel carriers and vehicles with recoilless guns. "

In response to the sectoral border on the part of East Berlin, units of the Soviet forces moved forward. For the first time after World War II, the Allied forces opposed each other in the center of Europe. This confrontation was a direct consequence of the policy of the Cold War, which turned West Berlin into a permanent center of crisis and the place of confrontation of the special services. The situation was heated to such an extent that at any moment a conflict could flare up with unpredictable consequences. All this required energetic measures from the USSR and its allies in the Warsaw Pact. And such measures were taken. The events of August 1961 had a sobering effect on Western politicians who understood the senselessness of a show of force.

In 1971, Colonel-General A.M. Sakharovsky for health reasons left intelligence. For a number of years he worked as an intelligence consultant under the chairman of the KGB.

Replaced A.M. Sakharovsky as head of foreign intelligence F.K. Mortin. Fyodor Konstantinovich was an active participant in the Great Patriotic War. In the year 1947, after graduating from the Military Diplomatic Academy of the Soviet Army, he came to work in foreign intelligence. In the same year he went on a long-term business trip. From the middle of 1950 onwards - in responsible work in the apparatus of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

In October 1954, Mortin was again transferred to work at state security agencies and appointed to the position of deputy head of the Perm State University. From 1958, First Deputy Head of Foreign Intelligence. Simultaneously, in 1966 – 1967, he headed the Higher Intelligence School. He took an active part in reorganizing it into a more modern educational institution - into the Red Banner Institute of the KGB.

In January, 1974, Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov became acting head of foreign intelligence, who in December of the same year was approved as the head of the PSU.

A graduate of the Higher Diplomatic School, he had experience in the central office of the USSR Foreign Ministry, in the USSR Embassy in Hungary during the period of famous Hungarian events, in the CPSU Central Committee staff as assistant secretary of the Central Committee Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov. In the KGB of the USSR he headed the secretariat, from 1971 to 1974, he was the first deputy head of intelligence.

It should be emphasized that with V.A. Kryuchkov much has been done to establish a clearer activity of all links of the intelligence service. Much attention was paid to the improvement of information and analytical work. Several scientific structures were created that generalized operational practices, methods of conducting intelligence work in various conditions, studying the directions and methods of work of the enemy’s intelligence services, introducing computer equipment and the latest information technologies into the work of the central office and residency.

In 1970, it took shape as an independent unit and external counterintelligence became very effective.

In the period under review, foreign intelligence activities in Afghanistan sharply intensified, especially since the entry of the Soviet troops into the country. On the shoulders of intelligence lay primarily information and analytical tasks that only she could solve.

Many foreign intelligence officers sent to Afghanistan had the opportunity to take direct part in hostilities. Some of them died, fulfilling their international duty. Intelligence deeply honors their memory.

From the beginning of the 1980-s, PSU began to actively inform the Soviet leadership about the plans of the American administration and personally of US President Ronald Reagan to undermine the political system and economy of the USSR. In order to resist the economic sabotage of the West, it was decided to allocate work on economic issues into an independent area of ​​foreign intelligence activity and create appropriate structures for this purpose.

What was the return of intelligence during the period under review, what were its achievements? Naturally, even its human resources employees find it difficult to answer this question: each intelligence unit carefully guards its secrets. But the paradox lies in the fact that the success of intelligence can indirectly be judged by its failures. In recent decades, the Western, primarily American, press has been exaggerating the names of many allegedly former sources of Soviet foreign intelligence. The places of their work were indicated: the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the encryption services of the naval fleet etc. Reserving the right not to comment on these press reports, we will try, each for ourselves, to answer the questions posed above, starting from at least the above list of specially protected enemy targets.

We recall only one of our assistants, whose activity against the unleashing of a new world war deserved and deserves deep respect.

American Glenn Michael Souter began to collaborate with Soviet intelligence on an ideological and political basis in 1980. He was a military photographer who served as part of the US Navy intelligence unit on the headquarters of the 6 American fleet operating in the Mediterranean. At the same time, he was a personal photographer for Admiral Crowe, commander of 6-US fleet, and his authorized representative for contacts with the public and journalists.

From Sauter was received a large number of important top-secret documentary information of military and military-strategic nature, revealing the strategic plans of the United States in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and other regions.

Later he handed over to the Center materials of the American Space Intelligence, as well as a list of targets in the territory of the USSR, which are subject to nuclear defeat in the event of military conflict. The value of this information is difficult to even talk about.

In February, 1989, the head of foreign intelligence became its personnel officer Leonid Vladimirovich Shebarshin. It fell to his share to lead intelligence in the last years of the Soviet state. As an experienced analyst and operative who had worked in intelligence for various decades, including in various management positions, he could not fail to see the brewing process of the collapse of the Soviet state and the role of Western intelligence services in this. Under these difficult conditions, each of the senior officials of the Service did everything possible to preserve its potential, understanding that, whatever the outcome of events, foreign intelligence should remain a necessary attribute of the state apparatus protecting the national interests of the country from external threats.

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  1. karal
    karal 27 September 2015 07: 20
    It would be necessary to restore the GRU - a headache for Russia's "friends"!
  2. Old26
    Old26 27 September 2015 08: 53
    Quote: karal
    It would be necessary to restore the GRU - a headache for Russia's "friends"!

    I am wildly sorry, but that the GRU once disbanded? what
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 27 September 2015 08: 57
    On the one hand, this is the activation of the military-political blocs of NATO, CENTO, SEATO created at the initiative of the USA; crisis situations in the Middle East in 1956-1967; Hungarian events of 1956; prolonged Berlin crisis; The Caribbean Crisis of 1962; Czechoslovak events of 1968... nothing has changed since ...
  4. karal
    karal 27 September 2015 09: 08
    Quote: Old26
    Quote: karal
    It would be necessary to restore the GRU - a headache for Russia's "friends"!

    I am wildly sorry, but that the GRU once disbanded? what

    Well, not that ..., but from the once powerful control there was only a bark and a few slivers. It’s sad. negative
  5. k174oun7
    k174oun7 27 September 2015 09: 08
    State intelligence services exist to preserve the state itself from external and internal threats. It is good to know the plans of the foe. And it is more important to know and resist "their" traitors and plunderers. Just think that Berezovsky was the secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and leaked all information to the British. True, they thanked him, though late, but in full.
    Let our invisible warriors not only inform, but also act more actively so that external "partners" and internal servants are more intelligible.
  6. Old26
    Old26 27 September 2015 09: 40
    Quote: karal
    Well, not that ..., but from the once powerful control there was only a bark and a few slivers. It’s sad.

    Do you consider several spetsnaz brigades to be slivers? So they left about half of what the Union once had. Well, as for the GRU structure, it remained as it was.
  7. karal
    karal 27 September 2015 12: 14
    Quote: Old26
    Quote: karal
    Well, not that ..., but from the once powerful control there was only a bark and a few slivers. It’s sad.

    Do you consider several spetsnaz brigades to be slivers? So they left about half of what the Union once had. Well, as for the GRU structure, it remained as it was.

    Well, you’re just like you don’t know the old news! And where does the special forces brigade? The GRU’s role was global, ranging from intelligence, scientific activities, personnel training, combat operations, for example, Afghanistan, etc. But the Serdyukovs, as a result of the military reform, did not want to speak with the GRU special forces.
  8. Old26
    Old26 27 September 2015 13: 26
    Quote: karal
    Well, you’re just like you don’t know the old news! And where does the special forces brigade? The GRU’s role was global, ranging from intelligence, scientific activities, personnel training, combat operations, for example, Afghanistan, etc. But the Serdyukovs, as a result of the military reform, did not want to speak with the GRU special forces.

    Well, using “Moskovsky Komsomolets” as a source of reliable information, especially four years ago, is not the best option. The source belongs to the category of "yellow press" and you can trust him with a probability of 4-2%.

    And what, has the role of the GRU changed now? Has it ceased to be global? Are GRU residencies in foreign countries gone? Yes, the Special Forces brigades were reassigned by the district commander, but the general management remained with the GRU. And the structure remained basically the same as before Serdyukov. Remained and brigades OZNAZ. Of course, he did harm, and not only to intelligence, but she still did not lose as much as the army. New units also appeared. Yes, and research institutes did not stop working.

    And the word "restore". which you used in your first post still means something else. This is when the service would be completely destroyed, then it would have to be "restored".