- Soviet intelligence played a minor if not unimportant role in the Franco–Viet Minh War of 1946–1954. The rezidenturas of both the MGB and the GRU in Paris collected information from agents recruited from the French Communist Party, which was passed to the Viet Minh. The most important source probably was Georges Paques, who served as a senior civil servant in the Mayer, Laniel, and Mendes-France administrations; Paques was recruited in 1946 and served as a Soviet agent until 1963. Soviet military intelligence officers also served with Viet Minh headquarters near Dien Bien Phu.Both the KGB and the GRU saw the U.S. involvement in Vietnam as an opportunity to gather information about the U.S. military. In exchange for billions of dollars of military equipment provided to the Vietnamese, the Soviet intelligence services expected a free hand to collect information. According to the Soviet archives, they were disappointed. On at least one occasion a Vietnamese military officer was prosecuted for providing a Soviet counterpart information about the effectiveness of surface-to-air missiles against American aircraft. North Vietnam was never a Soviet satellite, and billions of dollars of military aid did not buy Moscow as much as it wanted. The Vietnam War also provided the KGB with the basis for many of its most successful active measures. Working through Eastern European communist parties and their intelligence services, as well as front organizations, the KGB planted anti-American issues in the press of the world. The KGB saw the war as a golden opportunity to weaken the United States’ position in NATO and to strengthen the Soviet Union’s position in international fora.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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