The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

THIRTEEN
THE MAIN ADVERSARY
Part 4: Walk-ins and Legal Residencies in the Later Cold War

Yuri Andropov became KGB chairman in 1967 with extravagant expectations of the potential contribution of political intelligence to Soviet foreign policy, particularly towards the United States. In a report to KGB Party activists soon after his appointment, he declared that the KGB must be in a position to influence the outcome of international crises in a way that it had failed to do during the Cuban missile crisis five years earlier. He ordered the preparation within three to four months of a First Chief (Foreign Intelligence) Directorate report to the Central Committee on the current and future policy of the Main Adversary and its allies. The principal weakness of current operations in the United States, Andropov complained, was the lack of American agents of the caliber of the Britons Kim Philby, George Blake and John Vassall, or the West German Heinz Felfe. Only by recruiting such agents, he insisted, could the FCD gain access to really high-grade intelligence.1

Almost from the moment he became a candidate (non-voting) member of the Politburo in 1967, Andropov established himself as a powerful voice in Soviet foreign policy. In 1968 he emerged as the chief spokesman of those calling for "extreme measures" to crush the Prague Spring.2 During the 1970s he became co-sponsor, with the foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, of the main foreign policy proposals brought before the Politburo (of which both were full, voting members from 1973). Dmitri Ustinov, who became Defense Minister in 1977, sometimes added his signature to the proposals worked out with Gromyko. According to the long-serving Soviet ambassador in Washington, Anatoli Dobrynin:

Andropov had the advantage of familiarity with both foreign policy and military issues from the KGB's broad sources of information . . . Gromyko and Ustinov were authorities in their respective domains but laid no special claim to each other's fields in the way that Andropov felt comfortable in both.3

Under Andropov, the FCD, which had traditionally been wary of taking the initiative in issuing intelligence assessments, for fear that they might contradict the opinions of higher authority, reformed and expanded its analytical branch.4 On a number of occasions Andropov circulated slanted assessments to the Politburo in an attempt to influence its policy.5

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