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Human Intelligence Programs and Activities

Both the GRU, and the SVR as the successor to the KGB, conduct HUMINT operations that target the United States. The most recent example of a HUMINT operation conducted by Russia is the case of Aldrich Ames. Ames was a Central Intelligence Agency employee in the Directorate of Operations. In his work with the Directorate of Operations, Ames was able to obtain information pertaining to ongoing operations targeting the former Soviet Union and later Russia. Ames volunteered to work for the KGB in April 1985 as a walk-in to the Soviet Embassy in Washington and continued to work for the SVR after the fall of the Soviet Union. His espionage activities continued until his arrest on the morning of February 21, 1994. Upon his arrest, it was determined that Ames had been paid at least $2.5 million for his services and that he had compromised, by his own admission, "virtually all Soviet agents of the CIA and other American and foreign services known to me." In addition, he stated that he provided the former Soviet Union and Russia with a huge quantity of information on U.S. foreign, defense, and security policies.

It is very likely that the Russians will continue to place a significant emphasis on the development of HUMINT sources because of the quality of information they have received in the past. Since the August 1991 coup, the number of HUMINT operations conducted by the SVR and KGB that target the United States and the West have risen rather than fallen. In March 1993, the FBI and German counterintelligence authorities reported that SVR/GRU activities in their respective countries had grown by over 12 percent from pre-coup levels. This is due to a number of factors. First, as a result of arms control treaties, joint business opportunities, and numerous cultural and economic exchanges, the Russian intelligence services now have greater access to American society, government, and industry. Second, there has been a significant influx of Russian emigres into the United States. The FBI estimates that over 105,000 Russians emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. The Russians have traditionally used emigres as a means to gather intelligence. Third, there has been a substantial influx of Russian students into the United States; many of these students are studying technical disciplines that are required by the Russians to improve both military and civil industries. Fourth, travel restrictions on Russian diplomatic and consular personnel in the United States have been lifted, making it easier to collect information on U.S. activities.

Defectors from the former Soviet and the Russian intelligence services have stated that industrial espionage activities will escalate in the years ahead. Russia requires advanced technology to bolster its economy and foster increased technological progress. Defectors have stated that the SVR will target the increasing number of joint U.S./Russian business ventures in an effort to legally obtain or steal desirable Western technologies. The Russians do not in many cases have the ability to pay for those items they need to improve economic growth so they are willing to steal them or obtain them through other illegitimate means. Additionally, the Russians still must contend with restrictions on certain technologies that they desire. Most of these technologies are dual use technologies that would play a significant role in the development of advanced weapons systems or improved Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) systems. In 1994, the United States denied a request by the Russian government to purchase advanced telecommunications systems from AT&T. The request was denied based on an assessment by the National Security Agency that the technology would be used in C3I systems. Based on past collection patterns, it should be assumed that the Russians are still targeting these technologies.

Another likely trend is that, because of the reported reduction in the number of SVR intelligence officers, the Russians will place increasing emphasis on gaining information through technical intelligence disciplines, and open source analysis. Although the opportunity to collect HUMINT has expanded as a result of the relaxation of security standards in focused on Russia; the reduction in the number of SVR intelligence officers, the closing of diplomatic facilities throughout the world, and the loss of access to former Warsaw Pact intelligence services will lead to a overall reduction in intelligence acquired through HUMINT. HUMINT is likely to be more carefully targeted to gain information not readily available through technical intelligence collection or through open source exploitation. The Russians have always relied on open source information and will continue to obtain intelligence by analyzing public data in comparison with intelligence derived through classified sources. The Soviets used a variety of research and political institutes for the analysis of open source data. The majority of these institutes have been retained by the Russians and are likely performing the same roles as they did under the Soviet Union. The Russians will continue to use information gained through these research institutes and from the collection opportunities provided by joint trade, research, and educational activities.

Sources and Resources

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Updated Wednesday, November 26, 1997 5:56:23 PM