Federal Security Service employees searching Moscow's Prague restaurant.

Putin's Spies Can't Even Get Along With Each Other

July 17, 2018
Leonid Bershidsky
This is a summary of an article originally published by Bloomberg with the subheading: "Interagency rivalries expose the adventurous GRU and its mistakes."

The author writes that greater Western awareness of the activities of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, "may be the result of inter-agency competition inside Russia … The three agencies all have their distinct operational cultures and styles that make for heated competition. The ultimate objective is to please Putin, who likes variety in his toolbox. The competitive environment could be the reason the GRU’s failures are on such public display. … Putin may enjoy working with all three intelligence cultures—the correct and diplomatic SVR, the cunning and commercially-minded FSB and the forceful and risk-seeking GRU—but the rifts between them are likely to make the agencies vulnerable to adversaries. The GRU is the most exposed, its rivals happy to exploit flaws in its tradecraft to make its failures public. … Russia often looks and feels like a fearsome adversary to the West, but its establishment, including its intelligence community, isn’t monolithic enough to avoid embarrassing public failures—even if Western rivals are torn by their own political divisions.”

Read the full article at Foreign Affairs.


Leonid Bershidsky

Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg columnist and veteran Russia watcher.

Photo by Andrey Stenin shared under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.