- The Cold War — an ideological struggle between the Bolshevik regime and its enemies—lasted from 7 November 1917 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in August 1991. It has been more narrowly defined as lasting from 1947 until 1991 between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union.The Soviet security and intelligence services played critical offensive and defensive roles in that struggle: they were the sword and shield of the Communist Party. The security services, beginning with the Cheka, pursued enemies of the regime at home and abroad. The Cheka and its successors, as well as the GRU, provided four generations of party policy makers with intelligence and the capability of conducting active measures against all opponents.Marxist–Leninist ideology was a key motivation in the recruitment of the first generation of Soviet intelligence officers and their agents. Agents like Kim Philby saw themselves in a romantic battle for the future. Philby compared himself in later life to English Catholics who in the 16th century decided to serve Spain against their own country in the wars of the Reformation. But ideology was a double-edged sword in the Cold War: when KGB and GRU officers like Petr Popov and Dmitry Polyakov rejected their country’s official ideology, they looked for a replacement.The greatest impact of Cold War ideology was not, however, on the intelligence services. The Soviet political leadership—the Central Committee and the Politburo of the Communist Party—tended to be blinded by Marxist–Leninist thought. The decision to control academic thought through First Sections and Glavlit, which limited access to foreign books and other publications, delayed the Soviet Union’s entrance into the second industrial revolution and its acquisition of computer technology. The decision to prosecute religious and political dissidents in the name of ideological conformity undercut Moscow’s desire for legitimacy and commercial ties.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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