Maskirovka

   The Soviet military and intelligence term for strategic deception is maskirovka. Soviet military and intelligence doctrines called for a mixture of denial and deception measures to deceive foreign enemies: this doctrine impacted on Soviet counterintelligence operations as well as their military deception and denial activities. Beginning in the early 1920s, the Cheka created false White Russian movements, and operations such as the Trust, to deceive foreign intelligence services and lure émigré leaders back to the Soviet Union. During World War II, the Soviet sources used complicated radio games to confuse Berlin as to Red Army intentions and capabilities. During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet high command used a mixture of human and technical intelligence denial and deception measures to confuse the Nazi enemy. In preparing for the Stalingrad offensive in the late fall of 1942, the movement of reserves was masked by the careful use of camouflage and the observation of absolute radio silence. At the same time that preparations were being made for the Stalingrad offensive, rumors of a massive counteroffensive in the Moscow region were fed to controlled agents who dutifully misinformed Adolf Hitler’s intelligence officers. Stalin went so far as to allow Marshal Georgi Zhukov to launch an offensive in November 1942 (Operation Mars) in the vicinity of Moscow to further his deception. More than 140,000 Soviet soldiers died to ensure surprise later at Stalingrad.
   The Soviet general staff perfected maskirovka in later campaigns. Prior to the Kursk counteroffensive in 1943 and the Minsk offensive in June 1944, measures were taken to mislead the German high command. The GRU and the NKGB provided Stalin with concrete information that the Germans were planning a major offensive near Kursk. With great stealth, the high command prepared for a defensive battle followed by a major counteroffensive against the German flanks. Prior to Operation Bagration in the spring of 1944, the German Army intelligence chief on the Eastern Front, Reinhard Gehlen, was fed misinformation by human agents that the main blow would fall in the south in the Ukraine. Every measure was taken to mask the movement of the Red Army’s reserves.
   During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Soviet military and intelligence services spoofed the U.S. military. The operation for the movement of troops, missiles, and submarines was codenamed “Anadyr,” after a river in eastern Siberia. Troops were issued winter clothes and told they were being assigned to a mission in the Soviet east. Ships bound for Cuba were controlled by intelligence officers, and no Soviet soldiers were allowed on the deck of the ships during daylight hours. So carefully orchestrated was this plan that Moscow moved 40,000 troops as well as short and medium-ranged missiles to Cuba without alerting American intelligence.
   During the Cold War, Moscow developed human and signal intelligence resources, as well as open source and unclassified material for maskirovka. For example, cities used for the development of nuclear weapons were not identified in atlases and were given false and misleading post office addresses. Thus, Sarov, the Los Alamos of the Soviet nuclear program, was known as “Arzamas-16.” Sarov for five decades disappeared from maps of the Soviet Union. In the 1970s the Red Army and the KGB created the GTK, or State Technical Commission, to develop measures to deceive Western satellites. The GTK became the official organ of maskirovka for the Soviet military industrial complex.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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