One of the world's top spy agencies is slipping. There are many different Russian spy factions, from the KGB to the FSB, but the one who is currently creating the most waves is a slightly lesser-known entity. The GRU.
The GRU units work outside the Russian Federation and are a part of Russian military intelligence. However, even though it is a lesser-known entity, they deploy more than six times the amount of foreign officers as Russia's well-known intelligence units.
The GRU only handles high-value military ops. For example, a mission GRU would be involved in would be partnering with the Taliban. Taking out former Soviet spies would also fall under the GRU.
However, the once quiet agency now has become more well-known throughout the world as they continually make errors. The errors have made them much more visible to the outside world.
The U.S. was able to link the GRU to the Taliban via bank transfer information. In some operations, it took very little skill to tie the operatives from 29155 to the crimes since they used former aliases and flimsy cover stories while traveling worldwide.
The media easily tracked and published the movements of GRU operatives with confirmation from several countries' intelligence agencies. In fact, their movements were tracked throughout Europe.
Caught Red Handed
Scotland Yard caught two 29155 agents on closed-circuit TV. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, better known as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, were involved in the 2018 assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
In the assassination, they used not only GRU agents but a Soviet nerve agent. Investigators traced all of it back to 29155 and Chepiga's entire class from the GRU academy.
They also found plans to poison an arms dealer, disrupt Spain's elections, and a coup attempt in Montenegro.
Tor Bukkvoll, a researcher at the Norwegian Defense Ministry's Defense Research Establishment, says that information dug up from 2014's Czech incidents where GRU unit 29155 was blamed shows just how long they have been running these types of operations.
“This demonstration, showing the [Russian] willingness to engage in these kinds of missions, and go into other countries -- and perform these kinds of operations -- this is really scary."Tor Bukkvoll