Chapter Four.The GRU and the Military Industrial Commission (VPK)

When we use the term 'army' with regard to the Soviet Army we must have in mind not only the Ministry of Defence, but also the twelve other ministries whose sole function it is to produce weapons and military technology. Together all these ministries form the high-powered monolith headed by the military industrial commission (VPK). Included in the collegium of the military industrial commission are: one of the first deputies of the chairman of the council of ministers, thirteen ministers, and the chief of the general staff and the chief of the GRU. The military industrial commission is the Army and the Army is the military industrial commission. When we talk of a struggle between the Army and the Party and the KGB we have in mind the struggle of the whole military industrial commission, whose fortunes wax and wane in perfect harmony with the Army's own.

The economic and financial might of the military industrial commission can only be compared with the might of the Soviet Union itself. Theoretically the Soviet Union spends, in the interests of defence, the improbably small sum of nineteen billion roubles a year. This nineteen billion, however, is the budget of the Ministry of Defence alone. The budgets of the remaining twelve ministries which produce armaments are kept secret. The Soviet system is constructed in such a way that the Ministry of Defence does not buy; it receives the armaments necessary to it. For example, an aircraft carrier is under construction in the Soviet Union. The Ministry of Defence does not bear any of the cost of this. The price of the ship is paid to the Ministry of Shipbuilding by the Council of Ministers under the debit item shipbuilding industry'. This Ministry, by the way, has never constructed any non-military vessels. Non-military vessels are, without exception, bought for the Soviet Union in Poland, East Germany, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark — it is difficult indeed to list all of them. It is probably true that only Switzerland is an exception to this list. The same thing is true of aircraft, tanks, rockets, nuclear bombs, military electronics, every item of hardware. Nobody in the Soviet Union knows exactly how much the military industrial commission swallows up, but in any case it is an astronomical figure.

At the heart of any Soviet five-year plan for economic development — not the propaganda plan which appears in all the newspapers, but the genuine, secret plan — will be found the military industrial commission's plan. For all the other branches of the Soviet economy, metallurgy, machine tool construction, energy, transport, agriculture, have no independent significance but only provide for the activities of the military industrial commission. Soviet science is another organ providing for the military industrial commission. Officially it is allocated about sixty billion roubles a year, three times more than defence. But what sort of science is it, if the Soviet Union can produce the first automatic satellite destroyer in the world but cannot produce an ordinary compact, small-engined car? The Soviet Union has had to buy all its technology for the production of small cars from Italy. What are Soviet scientists up to if the Soviet Union has first-class military poisons but has to buy fertiliser technology from the United States? What are the sixty billion roubles spent on if the USSR constructs gigantic trans-norizontal radar, ultra-high frequency transmitters for communications with submarines whose underground aerials amount to thousands of kilometres in length — but has to buy the technology for the production of ordinary household television sets from France? Sixty billion roubles on science is yet another means of camouflaging Soviet military expenditure and the true might of the military industrial commission.

What has the GRU to do with this? The connection is this: the budget of the GRU is many times greater than the budget of the KGB. But the KGB is much bigger than the GRU, it has a vast apparatus within the country and its political influence is colossal. So why is the financial might of the GRU many times greater than that of the KGB? (Some specialists consider it to be several tens of times greater.) The business may be explained as follows. The KGB has its budget, which is without doubt enormous, and the GRU also has a moderate budget. Both form a part of State expenses and naturally the State tries to limit these expenses. But in addition to its 'clean' budget the GRU has colossal orders from the military industrial commission and from Soviet science which provides for the military commission. These orders are incalculably greater than the actual 'clean' budget of the GRU. For example, on receiving an order from the military industrial commission to steal a tank engine, the GRU receives money allocated as a debit item to 'science' or 'industry'. With this money the GRU will recruit an agent without spending a single cent of its own money, industry and science will receive the engine they want and save enormous expense, and finally the GRU's 'free' agent will continue to work on its behalf for the rest of his life. All twelve ministries of the military industrial commission, plus all of military science, are ready to place money with the GRU if only they can obtain the technology which is essential to them. Designers and factory directors receive medals and prizes for copying foreign samples of armaments in the same way as they would if they worked out their own examples. The KGB depends only on its actual budget, but the GRU draws on the budget of all Soviet armament industries and science. In the course of a major GRU operation, such as the theft of all the technological documentation for the American nuclear submarine George Washington (which enabled the Soviet Union to build a perfect copy -nicknamed 'Small George'), the GRU will not spend a single dollar of its own budget. Other memorable examples were the copying of the American missile 'Red Eye' and the Anglo-French Concorde, among many others.

* * *

Why does the KGB not carry out orders for the armaments industry? This is very simple. The chairmen of the Council of Ministers and Gosplan [The State planning committee] are responsible for the Soviet economy. They plan how much money to allocate, to whom and for what purpose. To the chairman of the Council of Ministers are subordinated both the armaments industry and the Minister of Defence with the general staff and the GRU. The KGB, alas, is not answerable to the chairman of the Council of Ministers. Having given money to the GRU to obtain something interesting, the chairman of the Council of Ministers or the chairman of the military industrial commission may bang on the table and demand that delivery be speeded up. But if they give money to the KGB then they will have to wait quietly until the KGB is ready to deliver the goods. The KGB is not usually in much of a hurry, even when it has been handsomely and generously paid. The KGB is a vain and arrogant courtier, having the right to speak at the King's council, but without a sou in his pocket. The GRU is an ugly hunchback: a moneylender, ready to serve anybody and making millions in the process. The courtier hates the moneylender. The courtier would kill the moneylender were it not for the fact that he serves the King himself.