By General Oleg Kalugin (Retired)

After Mikhail Gorbachev’s advent to power in 1985, the KGB was encouraged to widen its contacts with foreign intelligence and security agents outside the Soviet bloc. In 1988, Vladimir Kryuchkov travelled to India for confidential talks with Indian Prime Minister Radjiv Ghandi. During that visit, Kryuchkov raised the question of cooperation with Indian Special Services and exchange of intelligence information on Pakistan and China. Kryuchkov’s initiative was essentially a political gesture because over the years the Soviet KGB had thoroughly infiltrated the Indian Security and Intelligence establishment.

In 1990, the KGB unofficially contacted German law enforcement agencies trying to alleviate the fate of Erich Mielke, former chief of East German “Stasi” and his colleagues who were persecuted by German authorities.

In the Spring of 1991, Kryuchkov made an official trip to Berlin where he discussed with his German counterparts the plight of former “stasi” officers asking for mercy. He also offered to begin regular exchanges of opinions on problems of security with new Germany.14

The first KGB informal contact on a high level with the US CIA occurred in 1987, when Kryuchkov accompanied Mikhail Gorbachev during his official visit to Washington. He met then with the Deputy Director Robert Gates, but according to published reports, the meeting produced no practical results. In 1989, Kryuchkov made an unprecedented gesture by receiving the US Ambassador to the USSR in his office.

Ever since, the KGB chairman, later the mastermind of anti-Gorbachev’s plot, touted his desire to strengthen ties with his counterparts in the West. “The KGB, declared Kryuchkov, should have an image not only in our country but world wide, which is consistent with the noble goals, I believe we are pursuing in our work.”15

In 1990, Gates came to Moscow and offered, according to the KGB, a CIA analysis of national problems of the USSR up to the year 2000. The promised document, however, was never delivered to the Soviets. Later, former CIA Director William Colby and Stansfield Turner, traveled to Moscow, but only in a private capacity.

Before the demise of the USSR, as part of the KGB’s “new image” campaign, Moscow established informal ties with special services of Italy, France, Spain, Austria, and South Korea. The overall effect of these contacts was practically zero.

With new Russia emerging on the ruins of the Soviet empire, the KGB’s successors renewed their efforts to develop working relations with Western special services.

The areas of common interest were defined and included an exchange of information and occasional joint efforts in combating organized crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, illegal arms sales, nuclear proliferation, ecological and computer security and, finally, international terrorism. The intelligence support provided by Moscow to the United States after 9-11 has become, perhaps, one of the momentous events in the post-Cold War history. Mr. Putin’s desire to internationalize the Chechen War and legitimize the indiscriminate use of Russian force against the civilian population of the break-away republic as well as expectations of some rewards (forgiveness of Russia’s foreign debts, for instance) played undoubtedly a significant role in his decision to join the anti-terrorist coalition

At the “International Forum of Secret Services” held last March in St. Petersburg (Russ), the FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev, addressing some one hundred heads of intelligence services from 39 nations, called for the “unification” of espionage agencies, “new level or cooperation” with the West. Undoubtedly, Mr. Patrushev toed the party line drawn up by his boss – President Putin. Ironically, at about the same time British counterintelligence arrested an employee of one of the country’s largest defense contractors for stealing confidential materials and sending it to Moscow, and in Japan a Russian trade representative was charged with attempting to obtain US military secrets from a former Japanese Air Force officer.

Said Andrei Piontrovsky, director of the Center for Strategic Research and one of Russia’s top political analysts, “It’s highly unlikely that, in the places he did his studies, Putin was taught to love the West, especially “the main adversary.” But those places probably did teach him to base his actions on real circumstances and the real distribution of forces on the world political stage, rather than let himself be guided by emotions, complexes, and fantasies.”16

In other words: “At all times adjust to the world situation, take advantage of the world situation.” At no time the window of opportunity was wider open than now.

14 V. Kryuchkov: Personal File Moscow Olympic 1996 Vol. 2 p. 103

15 The Sword and The Shield p.222

16 The Russia Journal Volume 5 #9 March 15-21, 2002

Oleg D. Kalugin
Major General
Former People’s Deputy of the USSR

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