Staunton, January 24 – Retired Lt. Gen. Nikolay Leonov, who was deputy chief of the KBG’s First Chief Directorate, says that during the Cold War, Moscow routinely used Mexico as the site for meetings with its agents in the US because the Mexican counter-intelligence service was much less effective than the American FBI.
In the course of a wide-ranging interview with Igor Latunsky of the Versiya portal, Leonov made several statements confirm much of what specialists on the Soviet KGB gave long known or assumed as well as some clearly intended to continue disinformation about Moscow’s activities (versia.ru/general-kgb-o-shpionax-podgotovke-gosperevorotov-i-o-cene-predatelstva).
First of all, he says, “one must acknowledge that the work of the KGB was conducted in Mexico especially actively, including in part holding meetings with agents recruited on the territory of the US. This as less dangerous because the Mexican counter-intelligence service worked less effectively than the FBI.”
Second, the retired KGB general says that Moscow believed that the Cold War would be won or lost in the Third World, a place where the USSR had advantages as far as ideology and military assistance were concerned but was in a losing position economically. Thus, the Soviets often controlled the ports through which American goods passed.
Third, Leonov, who was a specialist on Latin America, says that the Soviets were rapidly gaining ground in that region before the USSR ceased to exist. But with the passing of the Soviet Union, he continues, that opportunity has passed as well.
Fourth, he reports that “the best agents” for Moscow were those who volunteered out of ideological sympathies but suggests that they were often driven by economic difficulties at home and the possibility that Moscow could help them overcome those difficulties with infusions of cash. Money alone was not the best motivator.
And fifth, the former KGB senior officer says, the US intelligence service maintained ties with criminal groups but the KGB was “strictly forbidden from doing so.” Forbidden, it may have been, but Moscow often viewed those others saw as criminal as something else, so such cooperation was frequent, Leonov’s claim to the contrary.
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