Circling the Lion's Den

Military-Diplomacy Academy or the Academy of the GRU

The Military- Diplomacy Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (VDA) was created during the war, when the changed international circumstances required expanded military-diplomatic activity abroad. The changes to the way the Academy trained its staff were in part prefigured by the developments in foreign policy over the preceding years.

The academy was built on the Higher School of Diplomacy, the Higher Intelligence School, the Oriental Insitute, and several other military and civillian educational institutions.

During the Great Patriotic War, in addition to Japanese and Chinese sections, the Academy's Oriental Faculty comprised Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hindi and Afghan sections. The Western Faculty not only catered for English, German and French, but also included sections for Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian and more. Then follows the Naval Faculty, with sections encompassing all naval and oceanic powers. The Airforce Faculty was temporarily reorganized into the Paratrooper Group where the emphasis was placed on the nationality of the territory with which they would come into closest contact in the nearest future.

By the 1980's the structure of the Academy had changed dramatically. According to publicly available information, by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, it looked as follows (and has essentially remained unchanged since)

  • 1st Faculty: Strategic Intelligence Agents. Preparing those going in under Embassy cover.
  • 2nd Faculty: Operational Intelligence Agents. Preparing those going to work as military attaches.
  • 3rd Faculty: Tactical Operational Intelligence. Preparing operational officers for tactical intelligence work from military HQs, producing 200 graduates annually.

Although officially it was thought that the 1st Faculty taught 'listeners' who would work under civillian cover, as Embassy staff, in trade delegations, merchant fleet, Aeroflot and so on, while the 2nd Faculty taught those who were destined to work as military attaches, they were given very similar training. In addition, graduates from the 1st Faculty were often sent to work as military attaches, while people graduating from hte 2nd Faculty were given civilian cover.

There is also a foreign languages faculty under the VDA, post graduate military training at the GRU diplomatic academy and higher academic courses under the Military-Diplomatic Academy.

The main Military Diplomacy Academy building is on Narodnogo Opolchenia (poeple's militia) street, its columns and rich decor reminiscent of a museum. It is surrounded by several other large buildings, which is in turn shielded from public view by a tall iron gate. The Academy falls within the GRU structure.

The Military-Diplomacy Academy only accepts graduate students. Those wishing to enroll are usually drawn from the officer class, who before sitting the entrance exams, have spent two or three years undergoing thorough screening for their reliability and ethics. Before enrolling, the officer has to go before a Military Medical Commission. According to Ministry of Defense order Number 315, regarding civillians deemed fit for admission to military unit 22177 (the Academy), the commission also has to assess their fitness for military service in any climatic conditions.

On March 28, 2002, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that it costs $30,000 per year to train one cadet at the Military Diplomacy Academy.

The student halls of residence are located on site at the Academy. 2010