Thursday, February 7, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Returns Spetsnaz Force to GRU for Possible Use in Central Asia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 7 – The Russian defense ministry and general staff has decided to return a special assignment (spetsnaz) brigade to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) for possible use in the case of troubles “in the Central Asian direction,” according to the new issue of “Voenno-Promyshlenny kuryer.”

            The GRU had lost those forces several years ago to the land forces, something that left the military’s intelligence arm without its own armed force in a move that VPK described as “one of the most significant errors of the reforms of the Armed Forces of Russia” (

            A VPK source said that the decision, “an absolutely correct” one, in his opinion, had been made at the insistence of the chief of the General Staff and a number of deputy defense ministers.  GRU officers accompanied [Defense Minster Sergey] Shoygu on his trips to Chechnya, and so the [new] minister knows their potential.”

            “Although the structure of the GRU is a state secret,” the source continued, “it is know that before the transfer [out of that administration], the spetsnaz bridge was part of one of the numbered commands, subordinated to the direction of special intelligence.”

            “Such a decision,” the source said, “is connected with the possible deterioration of the situation in the Central Asian direction. Precisely there, and not in the Caucasus, is expected a deterioration in connection with the events in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Only the GRU spetsnaz will be able to act in this region effectively and covertly.”

                Maj.Gen. Sergey Kanchukov, the former deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the Siberian Military District, told VPK that the return of the spetsnaz brigade to the GRU was “a necessary but insufficient” step. He suggested that what Moscow should do is to establish the Special Operations Forces directly subordinate to the defense minister or the president.”

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