Boris Solomatin Interview
Q: Did you share the information that Walker provided to you with any other countries? Specifically, did the North Vietnamese know in advance about our bombing targets during the war because the KGB was reading our military secrets?
A: I understand that this question is very important for you and there are many speculations on this subject. In my time, there was a practice of handing over some intelligence information by the leading country, say the Soviet Union, to the allies in the Warsaw Pact or to other countries of the so-called socialist camp. Vietnam was not a member of the Warsaw Pact, but it was one of the so-called socialist camp. So the matter of transmitting this kind of information was controlled at the very highest level. This would only be done with the sanction of one of the Deputies of the Chief of the First Department. I was one of them. So I know for myself what was done. I will tell you then that the information which was given to our allies, the socialist countries, was not much. It was always told in very general terms. You can presume that we were especially eager to protect a source such as Walker.
Q: You weren't going to tip off anybody about him?
A: Precisely. The handing over to the Vietnamese in any form of information or data which we got from Walker, was contrary to our own interests because it could lead to him being exposed. And to run the risk in this would be silly. Forgive us, but here we first were thinking about our own interests. I'm sure that if the Americans were in our place, they would do the same. Judging from what I told you just now, you should make a writer's opinion and if you decide that the information from Walker was not handed over to the North Vietnamese or our other allies, you will be making the correct one. Don't make guilty a man in what he is not guilty.
Because I understand how our different countries work, I will presume that there will be those in your country who will not believe me when I say that Walker is not responsible for your failures in bombing in North Vietnam. To hell with them. I tell you what I know and logic should tell you it is true. Walker was too important to us to ever risk his exposure.
Q: Did his arrest surprise you?
A: Yes, of course, and no. Every arrest is more or less unexpected and expected. Not because of what we do, but because of what the people who work for us do. Everyone is counseled and warned, but they do not listen, they seldom do. It is part of their personalities not to listen to our warnings.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: In my opinion, Walker was not an ordinary man. He was a talented man to be sure. He possessed a good sense of humor, was intelligent. He always wanted to be the one in the center of attention and he was ambitious without limits, was shameless, and even cynical. As happens with such people, he was let down by his own extreme self-assurances. Now listen attentively to my words. The character traits that made him such a successful spy for us, were also the main sources that led to his capture. And this is always the truth when it comes to such men. They become careless because they believe that they are wiser than their peers, more talented, even invulnerable.