Vladimir Putin has brought back Joseph Stalin’s counter-intelligence “death spies” which were introduced in the Soviet era.
Stalin created the SMERSH organisation which was an umbrella group within the Red Army that included three counter-intelligence forces.
The SMERSH units were formed in late 1941 and were officially announced on 14 April 1943 and their role was to subvert the attempts of Nazi Germany forces who were trying to infiltrate the Red Army on the Eastern Front.
The SMERSH units performed tasks of counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism and prevented activity of foreign intelligence in the Red Army.
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They would also investigate traitors, deserters and soldiers who would self-inflict wounds on themselves to get out of performing their duties, the unit would check military and civil personnel that would return back from captivity.
Earlier this month, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the claim that the unit has been brought back to life could have been proven correct.
This comes after “an open-source image showed operatives apparently wearing SMERSH uniform patches.”
The British MoD wrote in its intelligence assessment, “An abbreviation of the Russian phrase for ‘death to spies’, Joseph Stalin established the original organisation which existed from 1941 to 1946.
“In the West, it became known via its fictionalised portrayal in Ian Fleming’s James Bond books.
“It is unclear whether the new name indicates any substantive new capabilities or role for Russia’s CI function, or whether it is merely a re-badging.”
The UK MoD added that the return of the SMERSH unit is quite significant as a result of the propaganda over the war in Ukraine.
The intelligence assessment reads, “However, it provides another example of how the Russian authorities consciously couch the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the spirit of the Second World War, and their strong focus on the supposed infiltration of external threats into the country.”