Ministry of Foreign Affairs

   Initially, the Bolshevik Party saw little need for diplomacy. The first commissar of foreign affairs, Leon Trotsky, believed that the 1917 Revolution had made traditional diplomacy obsolete, and that it would set off a series of European revolutions. “I’ll just publish some memorandum, and shut up shop,” he reportedly said. The Commissariat of Foreign Affairs was until 1939 the weakest of three foreign policy institutions: the security service and the Comintern had far greater authority in the Kremlin. With the appointment of Vyacheslav Molotov to the post in 1939, this changed. Molotov had Joseph Stalin’s ear, and the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, which after 1946 was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, increasingly became a center of foreign policy decision making until Stalin’s death. Under Molotov, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs became a major consumer of foreign intelligence, and he placed heavy demands on intelligence officers for foreign documents and agent reports. In 1947 Molotov, as head of the Committee of Information, or Komitet Informatsii, had control of foreign intelligence.
   The Ministry of Foreign Affairs grew in authority after 1953 as the Soviet Union became a major power. While it still had to compete with the KGB and the International Department of the Communist Party Central Committee (CPCC), it did so after 1953 as more of an equal. Longtime Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko and Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin played a far more important role in U.S.-Soviet relations than their colleagues in the intelligence service or the CPCC.
   Problems between the KGB rezident and the ambassador apparently plagued many embassies as they competed to provide Moscow with information. Moreover, ambassadors and senior KGB officers competed for the same sources. Another problem was the KGB rezidents’ counterintelligence authority. The KGB always had the power to destroy the reputation of any diplomat, including an ambassador. KGB informers infiltrated every foreign mission, and any sense of disloyalty or personal weakness guaranteed a diplomat a trip home.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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