Tag Archives: Special Operations

The Spy with the Broken Bracelet

Veteran chief of the KGB’s elite Alpha Group Maj. Gen. Gennady Nikolaevich Zaitsev recounts the 1977 operation to arrest CIA intelligence officer Martha Peterson, who worked out of the US Embassy under diplomatic cover. Peterson had been handling a valuable agent – Aleksandr Ogorodnik, code-named Trigon, a highly-placed staffer at the Soviet Foreign Ministry. Little did Peterson know at the time that Ogorodnik had already been arrested and committed suicide in custody with poison supplied from Langley. The trap carefully laid by the KGB’s Second Chief Directorate was set…

It so happened that I had the opportunity to participate in an arrest of a spy even before joining the spetsnaz Alpha Group. At that time, I served in the Seventh Directorate of the KGB of the USSR. Do you remember the film TASS is Authorized to Declare …? It told the story of how the KGB exposed Trigon, an enemy agent. In reality, this was Alexander Ogorodnik (Trigon), a staff member at the American Department of the Directorate for Planning Foreign Policy Measures at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He committed suicide during arrest. Continue reading The Spy with the Broken Bracelet

The Demise of Enver Pasha

Turkish warlord Enver Pasha (1881-1922) was not only the architect of the Armenian genocide, but also a key player in the early twentieth-century Great Game. A consummate intriguer, Enver attempted forging a Pan-Turkic empire in Central Asia, where he would meet his death at the hands of the Red Army.

The assassination of Enver Pasha cannot be called a special operation in the full sense of the word. It was sooner a special military operation carried out by the forces of the army and special services. But we can form a conception of how Soviet power was established in Central Asia, and by what methods, on its example.

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Hitler’s Plot to Assassinate Stalin

While it is known that German intelligence targeted Soviet leader Josef Stalin during World War II, how close did they come to succeeding? The following tells the story of SS Operation Zeppelin and the brilliant counter-moves, known as Operation Fog, undertaken by Soviet military counterintelligence (SMERSH) officer Grigorii Grigorenko, who would go on to head the KGB Second Chief Directorate during the Cold War. 

Much has been said and written about the attempt to liquidate Stalin during the Second World War—at the same time, nothing specific, but rather things at the level of speculation or fiction.

The failed assassination of the Supreme Commander of the Soviet Union, planned by German saboteurs, is a thrilling subject, after all. And they indeed planned to kill him. However, the story of capturing terrorist saboteurs turned into the prequel to one of the most successful operations by Soviet counter-intelligence, codenamed Fog and carried out by Major Grigorii Fedorovich Grigorenko, a resident of Poltava, today’s Ukraine. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) recently declassified this operation.

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The Downfall of Agent Sphere

Lt. Col. Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaitsev, an officer of the KGB’s elite spetsnaz Group A (Alpha), commanded the operation to arrest CIA agent Adolph Tolkachev in 1985. Zaitsev recounts the affair and its strategic significance in the Cold War.

Group A’s very first snatch operation against a “werewolf” was the summer 1985 arrest of Adolph Tolkachev (agent code name [CK] SPHERE), an engineer at a USSR Ministry of Radio Industry scientific research institute – one of the leading specialists in aero-navigational systems.  Continue reading The Downfall of Agent Sphere

Spy Snatchers: KGB Alpha Group

Spetsnaz Group “Alpha” was founded in 1974 on the orders of KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. As this article by KGB veteran Lt. Col. Igor Atamenenko makes clear, Alpha was not only a secretive anti-terror force, but also the high-class muscle used in the KGB’s counterintelligence operations against foreign intelligence services. 

Even the KGB’s overseers from the CPSU Central Committee’s department of administrative organs were not informed of the true purpose of the Group “A,” Lubyanka’s super-secret unit that attained wide publicity under the name of Alpha only after the events of August 1991 in Moscow. For them it was just one of the structures within the KGB, and many operations executed by its officers also remain a closely-guarded secret to this day, continuing to to carry the stamp “Top Secret” and “Of Special Importance.”

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Vympel: The KGB’s Sword Abroad

Vympel, the KGB’s spetsnaz group for overseas action, was a unit forged, in the words of its initiator KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov, “without equal.” The following text outlines Vympel’s founding, the unit’s training process, and its general operational history.

The idea for founding a commando unit for the KGB belongs to the chief of Directorate S (Illegals) Yuri Drozdov, one of the men who directed the storm of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin’s palace. Returning from Moscow, he went to KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and presented him with a plan to create a special-purpose group for carrying out operations during the “special period” – in short, a commando unit.

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The Illegals: Russia’s Elite Spies

The FBI’s recent arrest of several alleged deep-cover Russian intelligence officers, also known as “illegals”, has provoked astonishment in the media. As if U.S. intelligence agencies would ever dream of carrying out covert work in Russia! Since the memory span of reporters and pundits rarely extends beyond a few weeks, perhaps this is understandable. But it should come as no surprise that spying remains an important tool of statecraft. As exemplified by the illegals, the Russians are top players in the game of human intelligence.

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