Translated by Scott Humor
The New York Times has published another article “to expose the subversive work” of the GRU in Europe. We are talking about nothing less than the activities of an entire military unit, the purpose of which is to conduct “subversion, sabotage and murder.” What does this military unit actually do, and how convincing are the published accusations?
In fact, the topic has long grew cold. The peak of attacks on the GRU came in the summer and autumn of last year against the background of the “Skripal’s case.” The campaign against the GRU took a form of daily harassment, which, in addition to the British and American media, were joined by liberal publications and “experts” in Russia. No real facts were presented, back then and now, but as a whole the “revelation” looks plausible for the Western audience, because it contains some figures, symbolizing the names of Russian military units (they might look for the English-speaking public as an interesting charade), and fitting random factoids. It reads like a spy-sabotage thriller – and, surprising, that this all has not yet found its reflection in Hollywood.
The current publication in the NYT is exactly the same: a collection of disparate assertions without any specific confirmation. It is impossible to draw any conclusions from this text. It’s just another material of the faded anti-Russia propaganda campaign, new in which was only another digital designation of the Russian military unit.
According to NYT, citing unnamed intelligence officials in four Western countries, the “coup attempt” in Montenegro, the “destabilization campaign” in Moldova, as well as the poisoning of Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev and ex-GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal in the UK involved the same unit of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Armed Forces (GRU, since 2010 – the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces). The publication notes that security agents in Western countries have concluded that these operations are part of a coordinated and ongoing “campaign to destabilize Europe.” According to them, it is conducted by an elite top-secret unit of Russian intelligence, which specializes in “subversion, sabotage and murder.”
According to the New York Times, the group, known as “the Unit 29155,” has been active for at least a decade, but Western authorities learned of its existence recently. It was first identified in 2016 after the failed coup in Montenegro, but “the extent of the activities of Western intelligence agencies realized” only after the poisoning of the Skripals in 2018. The unit is allegedly located in the Moscow headquarters of the 161st Special Purpose Training Center.
According to Western intelligence agencies, other employees of the GRU, most likely, don’t know about the existence of this unit.
The press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, to whom the newspaper sent a request about the Unit 29155, redirected journalists to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. And it is clear why – in this story almost everything is a lie with the exception of the sincere reaction of Peskov. Representatives of the “intelligence in the four countries” heard, of course, a certain ringing, which was shared with an employee of the NYT, who also, apparently, is not too familiar with the Russian military and intelligence realities. And just with life, in general. No sane person can imagine that the military unit with the usual number “is unknown to other GRU employees,” “was identified only in 2016” and it is unclear how it is “mobilized”. To write this one has to not know anything about the realities of modern Russia.
Let’s start with the fact that the 161st training center (a.k.a. training center, GCHQ) has existed since Soviet times. Previously, it was located in the suburban objects so called “dachas” (for example, in Razdory) and there were trained special services and armies of the allied states. Now “dacha” in the town Razdory is abandoned and has become object for stalkers and junk dealers, which search there for artifacts like casings from educational radio transmitters 1970-1980’s to trade on flea markets. Another object m\u 29155 until the early 2000s was listed on the balance of the FSB in the Serebryany Bor (as an ordinary warehouse), but then was liquidated by the government of Moscow along with two dozen objects in the resort and park area of Serebryany Bor during its reconstruction.
[Washington used to have its Embassy retreat property in the Serebryany Bor until it was taken from the US in quid-pro-quo after Washington stole Russia’s owned properties in the US. Only in a pseudo-reality invented by the American Media the highly sensitive military training center would be located next to the US Embassy dacha on a small river island. S.H.]
Now military unit No. 29155 is located in Northern Izmailovo on 11th Park street and is a shameful for the “elite and top-secret units of the GRU” crumbling building behind the sloping white concrete fence, familiar to any soviet person.
[S.H. From the 2009 the military unit 29155 is listed in the All-Russia Business Directory as FEDERAL STATE INSTITUTION Military Unit 29155 with its actual street address, name of its commander and the state tenders.
It is unlikely that NYT employees ever visited this not the most touristy area of Moscow, but this imbalance was compensated by the statement that the elite unit, “destabilizing Europe,” is experiencing difficulties with financing.” As a proof, the NYT refers to the data from open sources that the commander of the unit General Andrei Averyanov allegedly lives in the Khrushchev built five story apartment building near the m\u and drives an old Soviet built “Zhiguli-five”.
All of these looks strange for respectful American publications. Not only do they not even try to double-check the information, they just invent it. Petrov and Bashirova are invented to be in the military unit 21955 based on the photos from the wedding of the daughter of General Averyanov. Also in this article mentioned the military unit 74455 (Scientific Center of Cryptography on Komsomolsk Avenue and Svoboda street, whose employees were accused by the US of hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails, as the newspaper VZGLYAD wrote in detail) and the m/u 99450 as the main source of “destabilization.”
The history of these digital designations is as following. In 2009, during the reform of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, was created the Department of Special Operations (USO), subordinated personally to the Chief of the General Staff (back then it was General Nikolai Makarov). USO was formed on the basis of the center “Senezh” in Solnechnogorsk district, which was the m\u 92154.
And in April 2011, a second Special Purpose Center was established, subordinate to the head of the GRU in Kubinka-2 (aka “Zazaborye”, aka “Kuba”). In 2013, the new chief of the General staff Valery Gerasimov announced the beginning of formation of the Special Operations Forces Command (SDF). Then in 2013, Senezh and Kubinka began active construction of infrastructure. The Special Operations Forces Command (SDF) had received a designation as the military unit number 99450, which now the NYT accuses of all mortal sins, especially pressing for the “annexation of the Crimea.”
In Senezh emphasis is placed on parachute training, although here is also located the Department of Marine Special Operations (there is also a unit in Sevastopol) and the Anti-Terrorism unit.
Mountain training is carried out in North Ossetia (m \ u 90091) and the basis for the training and survival center “Terskol” in Kabardino-Balkaria. In general, these are assault army units trained to storm objects and destroy enemy bases, and not spy-style “killer-poisoners” and “Europe destabilizes.” Several units of security and protection are not even professional and comprise conscripts – a unit of reinforcements, command guards, a unit of material support, a technical platoon, a communication unit, a unit of new recruits.
On the territory of the military town of Senezh, a training, airborne and fire complexes are located, in addition to a canine complex, an indoor swimming pool, a sports hall, a tactical town for practicing actions in settlements, a helicopter pad, as well as a platform for driving special equipment, medical and office premises. In Kubinka (unit 01355) all roughly the same with emphasis on physical training.
Training of officers is carried out in the Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School – RVVDKU (faculty of special and military intelligence and department of application of special purpose units) and Novosibirsk higher military command school – NVVKU (faculty of special intelligence and department of special intelligence and airborne training).
At the same time, parts of the S.O.F. experience a constant shortage of personnel with “non-physical” training. For example, there is a chronic lack of specialists with knowledge of foreign languages, which is a global problem (in terms of S.O.F., first of all, they look at the physical training). The French 13th Dragoon parachute regiment (13e Régiment de dragons parachutistes) of the S.O.F. of the French army’s Land forces in 2014, with a staff of 751, had 707 men in service for the same reason. At the same time, there is evidence that General Makarov, creating the Russian S.O.F., actively adopted the experience of Western colleagues – the French, Germans and Italians (Italians are traditionally strong in the training of naval combat swimmers). In 2012, in order to exchange experience, General Makarov visited a similar American S.O.F. training center in Tampa (Florida).
Nevertheless, the creation of the S.O.F. units, not included in the GRU, but tied directly to the leadership of the General Staff, went slowly because of funding problems and quiet bureaucratic sabotage. Now, the Russian S.O.F. – one of the best in the world, as shown by the experience of Syria.
So, where is here the Skripals, attempt of revolution in Montenegro, Bashirov and Petrov, the Bulgarian arms dealer and Hillary Clinton? All the more tied in one knot by the NYT’s “sources.” Texts like the one published by the NYT are created solely to maintain interest in a faded topic.
The main message of the article: be afraid of the Russians, especially their GRU, which is prone to cruelty (these are actual words of one of the “American experts”).
Having discovered a new three-letter combination – GRU – two years ago, the Western media consistently hammers into this one point: the Russians have some terrible brigades of murderers, from whom no one is protected because of their brutality. Evidence-zero. There is not even an elementary knowledge base on this topic, and to visit the 11th Park street and knock on the crumbling fence is really scary.
We can, of course, ignore this. What this leads to we saw on the example of almost daily mockery of the Russian military intelligence. Surely, the Russian intelligence services will remain silent this time, providing a lot of food for thought to those who will continue to invent schemes of involvement of Russian military units in something off color.
By the way, Gebrev traded Bulgarian and Russian made weapons to the Middle East through the channels of the CIA and managed to annoy half of the Arab world, in addition to the CIA and Israel. Maybe, the NYT should dig somewhere in there?
The featured image: Russian Spetsnaz Special Operation Forces