Jefferson Morley | September 8, 2019
Russia: Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU)
GRU in the News
- Officials Say Wagner, the Russian Mercenary Force, Is Fighting in Libya (February 4, 2020)
- Decoding the Wagner Group, Russia’s Private Military Company (November 12, 2019)
- “Bellingcat Documentary Has The Pace and Plot of a Thriller” (August 18, 2019)
- “Influence Op: Russia’s 2016 Twitter Campaign Had 3,900 Accounts” (June 7, 2019)
- “Mueller Redacted: GRU Used Wikileaks But Did Not Conspire With Trump” (April 18, 2019)
GRU’s stated mission is to supply military intelligence to the Russian president and government. Additional missions include ensuring Russia’s military, economic and technological security.
Unlike Russia’s other intelligence services, Federal Security Service (FSB) and SVR, the GRU is not a ministerial organization. The GRU reports to the chief of the general staff and the defense minister, not the president.
GRU has allegedly orchestrated the assassination of enemies of the Russian state abroad. British officials say two GRU officers attempted to assassinate Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for British intelligence, in March 2018 with a chemical agent. Russia denies any involvement.
The GRU is also known for its cyber operations. U.S. intelligence sources say the GRU sponsors, or otherwise controls, a hacking collective known as Fancy Bear. According to the January 2017 finding of the U.S. intelligence community, Fancy Bear hacked the Democratic National Committee email system during the 2016 presidential election in order to help Donald Trump’s candidacy. “Only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the finding concluded. Russia rejected the charge.
In July 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 GRU officers for hacking the computers of the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and releasing the information via Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was not interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, denies collaborating with the Russians.) The redacted version of Mueller’s final report concluded that Clinton and the DNC, and the DCCC were victims of a GRU “spear phishing” operation, indicating an organized attack rather than a theft of opportunity.
The international investigation in the 2014 downing of civilian airliner over Ukraine that killed 290 people concluded that two former GRU soldiers were involved. Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the charges as “absolutely unfounded.”
- How Russia’s global hacking operation unravelled (Wired)
- GRU: Obscure Part of Russian Intelligence (Journal of Defense Management, 2012)
- Indictment of 12 GRU officers (U.S. Justice Department, July 13, 2018)
- Comments/Corrections/Leaks About GRU