Main Intelligence Directorate

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"GRU" redirects here. For other uses, see GRU (disambiguation).
GRU Generalnogo Shtaba
Glavnoje Razvedyvatel'noje Upravlenije
Главное Разведывательное Управление
Generalstaff central dep.svg
Agency overview
Formed May 7, 1992
Preceding agencies
Jurisdiction President of Russia
Headquarters Grizodubovoy str. 3, Moscow
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Igor Korobov, Director
Parent agency Ministry of Defense
Child agencies
  • Svyazinformsoyuz Company
  • Directorate for Space Intelligence
Website Not exist

Main Intelligence Agency (Russian: Гла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ние, tr. Glavnoye razvedyvatel'noye upravleniye; IPA: [ˈglavnəjə rɐzˈvʲɛdɨvətʲɪlʲnəjə ʊprɐˈvlʲenʲɪjə]), abbreviated GRU (Russian: ГРУ; IPA: [geeˈru]), is the foreign military intelligence main agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (formerly the Soviet Army General Staff of the Soviet Union). The official full name is Main Intelligence Agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Russian: Гла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ние Генера́льного шта́ба Вооружённых Сил Росси́йской Федера́ции). It is also known as GRU GSh (Russian: ГРУ ГШ; abbreviation of ГРУ Генера́льного шта́ба, tr. GRU Generalnovo Shtaba (English: GRU of the General Staff)).

The GRU is Russia's largest foreign intelligence agency.[1] In 1997 it deployed six times as many agents in foreign countries as the SVR, the successor of the KGB's foreign operations directorate. It also commanded 25,000 Spetsnaz troops in 1997.[2]


GRU Official emblem (until 2009) with motto engraved: "Greatness of the Motherland in your glorious deeds"

The first body for military intelligence was established in 1810 by the War minister Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly who suggested to the Czar to create a permanent body for Strategic military intelligence.

In January 1810 The Expedition for Secret Affairs under the War Ministry was formed. Two years later it was renamed to the Special Bureau.

In 1815 the bureau became the First Department under the General Chief of Staff. In 1836 the intelligence functions were transferred to the Second Department under the General Chief of Staff. After many name changes through the years, in April 1906 the Military intelligence was carried out by the Fifth Department under the General Chief of Staff of the War Ministry.

In November 5, 1918 the Imperial Military intelligence was replaced by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet Union.

In May 1992 the GRU was dissolved and became part of the new Russian Ministry of Defense.

The GRU is still a very important part of the Russian Federation's intelligence services, especially since it was never split up, unlike the KGB.[3] The KGB was dissolved after aiding a failed coup in 1991 against the then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. It has since been divided into the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

In 2006 the GRU moved to a new headquarters. In 2008 President Dmitry Medvedev resigned the GRU Head Valentin Korabelnikov (who headed the Service since 1997).

In 2010 under the military reform the GRU changed its name to Main Directorate of the Russian General Chief of Staff, but the GRU remain as a common name.


According to the Federation of American Scientists: "Though sometimes compared to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, [the GRU's] activities encompass those performed by nearly all joint US military intelligence agencies as well as other national US organizations. The GRU gathers human intelligence through military attaches and foreign agents. It also maintains significant signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery reconnaissance (IMINT) and satellite imagery capabilities."[4] GRU Space Intelligence Directorate has put more than 130 SIGINT satellites into orbit. GRU and KGB SIGINT network employed about 350,000 specialists.[5]

According to GRU defector Kalanbe,[citation needed] "Though most Americans do not realize it, America is penetrated by Russian military intelligence to the extent that arms caches lie in wait for use by Russian special forces." He also described a possibility that compact tactical nuclear weapons known as "suitcase bombs" are hidden in the US[6][7] and noted that "the most sensitive activity of the GRU is gathering intelligence on American leaders, and there is only one purpose for this intelligence: targeting information for spetsnaz (special forces) assassination squads [in the event of war]." The American leaders will be easily assassinated using the "suitcase bombs," according to Lunev.[6] GRU is "one of the primary instructors of terrorists worldwide" according to Lunev.[6] Terrorist Shamil Basayev reportedly worked for this organization.[8][9][10]

US Congressman Curt Weldon supported claims by Lunev but noted that Lunev had "exaggerated things" according to the FBI.[11] Searches of the areas identified by Lunev – who admits he never planted any weapons in the US – have been conducted, "but law-enforcement officials have never found such weapons caches, with or without portable nuclear weapons."[12]

During the 2006 Georgian–Russian espionage controversy, four officers working for the GRU Alexander Savva, Dmitry Kazantsev, Aleksey Zavgorodny and Alexander Baranov were arrested by the Counter-Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and were accused of espionage and sabotage. This spy network was managed from Armenia by GRU Colonel Anatoly Sinitsin. A few days later the arrested officers were handed over to Russia through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).[13][14]

GRU detachments from Chechnya were transferred to Lebanon independently of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon after the 2006 Lebanon War "to improve Russia's image in the Arab world", according to Sergei Ivanov.[15] Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was assassinated by two GRU officers. GRU officers have also been accused of creating criminal death squads.[16]

The GRU has significant part in Russia's involvement in Syrian civil war.



Dmitry Kozak and Vladislav Surkov, members of the Vladimir Putin administration, reportedly served in GRU. Two Chechen former warlords Said-Magomed Kakiev and Sulim Yamadayev are commanders of Special Battalions Vostok and Zapad ("East" and "West") that are controlled by the GRU. The battalions each included close to a thousand fighters[17] until their disbandment in 2008.


In 2002, Bill Powell, former Moscow bureau chief at Newsweek, wrote Treason, an account of the experiences of former GRU colonel Vyacheslav Baranov, who had betrayed GRU for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and agreed to spy for it. He was exposed to the Russians by a mole in either the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the CIA and spent five years in prison before he was released. The identity of the mole remains unknown to this day, but speculation has mounted that it could have been Robert Hanssen.[18]


The Head of the Russian Military Intelligence is a military officer and is the highest ranking intelligence officer in Russia. He is the primary military intelligence adviser to the Russian Minister of Defense and to the Chief of Staff and also answers to the President of Russia.

Since 1991[edit]

# Head Term President(s) served under
1 Yevgeny Timokhin November 1991 – August 1992 Boris Yeltsin
2 Fyodor Ladygin August 1992 – May 1997 Boris Yeltsin
3 Valentin Korabelnikov May 1997 – April 2009 Boris Yeltsin
Vladimir Putin
Dmitry Medvedev
4 Alexander Shlyakhturov April 2009 – December 2011 Dmitry Medvedev
5 Igor Sergun December 2011 – January 2016 Dmitry Medvedev
Vladimir Putin
- vacant position January 3 – February 1, 2016 Vladimir Putin
6 Igor Korobov (ru) Since February 2, 2016 Vladimir Putin

Fictional uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reuters Factbox on Russian military intelligence by Dmitry Solovyov". Reuters. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Lunev, Stanislav (12 September 1997). "Changes may be on the way for the Russian security services". PRISM. The Jamestown Foundation. 3 (14). Archived from the original on 25 November 2006. 
  3. ^ "Reuters Russia's Medvedev sacks military spy chief by Dmitry Solovyov Fri Apr 24, 2009". Reuters. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Operations of the Main Intelligence Administration (GRU) Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie - Russia / Soviet Intelligence Agencies". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-14-028487-7.
  6. ^ a b c Stanislav Lunev. Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4
  7. ^ Symposium: Al Qaeda’s Nukes by Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine, October 27, 2006
  8. ^ Western leaders betray Aslan Maskhadov – by Andre Glucksmann. Prima-News, March 11, 2005
  9. ^ CHECHEN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER: BASAEV WAS G.R.U. OFFICER The Jamestown Foundation, September 08, 2006
  10. ^ Analysis: Has Chechnya's Strongman Signed His Own Death Warrant? – by Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, March 1, 2005
  11. ^ Nicholas Horrock, "FBI focusing on portable nuke threat", UPI (20 December 2001).
  12. ^ Steve Goldstein and Chris Mondics, "Some Weldon-backed allegations unconfirmed; Among them: A plot to crash planes into a reactor, and missing suitcase-size Soviet atomic weapons." Philadelphia Inquirer (15 March 2006) A7.
  13. ^ Petriashvili, Diana (28 September 2006). "Tbilisi Claims Russian Troop Movements in Response to Spy Dispute". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "Georgia Arrests Russian 'Intelligence Operatives'". Civil Georgia. 27 September 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  15. ^ Moscow posts two Chechen platoons in S. Lebanon, one headed by an ex-rebel commander, "to improve Russia's image in the Arab world" by DEBKAfile
  16. ^ Special services are making teams for extrajudicial punishment (Russian) by Igor Korolkov, Novaya Gazeta, January 11, 2007. English translation
  17. ^ Land of the warlords, by Nick Paton Walsh, Guardian Unlimited
  18. ^ Powell, Bill (2002-11-01), Treason: How a Russian Spy Led an American Journalist to a U.S. Double Agent, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-2915-0 

External links[edit]