Moskovskiy komsomolets reported some rumors about the GRU yesterday. But one may or may not want to put stock in them.
MK reports that the country’s leadership is still working over a candidate for chief of the GRU. General-Colonel Shlyakhturov’s request for retirement was given a month ago, and the president has signed it. But MK claims the issue of GRU reform is also being decided.
The media’s widely reported that the retiring Shlyakhturov will become Chairman of the Board of the Defense Ministry’s Oboronservis corporation, which is consolidating, civilianizing, and outsourcing most of the military’s logistics and support services. More recently, it’s been said he’ll occupy the same position with Russia’s lead ballistic missile design bureau, MIT.
MK claims Shlyakhturov isn’t retiring for failing to fulfill his mission, or for disputes with the leadership, or for age reasons (since he was already too old), or for poor health. According to the paper’s Genshtab source, it’s because a reform awaits the GRU.
MK’s source reports there’s a plan to unify the GRU and SVR into one powerful intelligence center. The GRU would be cut down to just an intelligence directorate with Russia’s military attaches and intelligence posts around the country, etc.
MK also reports a key appointment. One general Vladimir Stepanovich Alekseyev has reportedly become First Deputy Chief of the GRU. He was chief of intelligence for the former Moscow MD, then for the Far East MD. He returned to Moscow to be chief of the GRU’s 14th Directorate (Spetsnaz), according to MK’s GRU source. The paper says he could be chief of the GRU in the future. Alekseyev is from GRU operational agent intelligence inside Russia and the “near abroad.” Shlyakhturov was from strategic agent intelligence, that is, spies and operations in the “far abroad.”
OK, some of the odd stuff here . . . for one, there’s already been reform in the GRU, so wouldn’t this be more reform, or more radical reform? MK makes the good point that it’s not clear why Shlyakhturov’s retiring — he’s been too old for a long time, so why now? Maybe it is a much bigger restructuring that eliminates the “G” in GRU. There’s long been talk of merging GRU and SVR, but the paper strangely refers to SVR being formally within the FSB’s structure (?!). Now about Alekseyev . . . perhaps he’s the guy who would head an RU focused on Russia’s strategic approaches and the CIS (i.e. military opintel), while the GRU’s remaining “far abroad” assets chop to the SVR. This makes some sense since RU-type work and opintel seems to be where the GRU failed in Georgia. And then SVR gets swallowed by an even bigger fish, the FSB, in a grand reanimation of the KGB for Putin’s third presidential term. But, as said at the top, one may not want to see too much in all this.