There is no official version of what Putin was doing in Dresden, and he has not offered much personal detail.
Nor is there any concrete information about which directorate of the KGB Putin worked for.
One suggestion is that he was in an operation, “Operation Luch” (“beam” or “ray”), to steal technological secrets. Another says that while he was indeed part of Operation Luch, the mission was not to steal secrets at all.
It was an undercover operation to recruit top officials in the East German Communist Party and secret police (Stasi).
The goal was to secure their support for the reformist, perestroika, line of the Soviet leadership in Moscow against opposition from Honecker and his hardline East German leadership.
A third says simply that the goal of the KGB in Dresden was to contact, entrap, compromise, and generally recruit Westerners who happened to be in Dresden studying and doing business.
Other versions suggest that the KGB was focused on recruiting East Germans who had relatives in the West. Some versions of the story have said Putin himself traveled undercover to West Germany on occasion.
The most likely answer to which of these was Putin’s actual mission in Dresden is: “all of the above.”
Not only is it likely that Putin engaged in some or all of these activities, it is virtually inconceivable that he did not.