Oswald was trying to obtain his visas in the most difficult way possible
While CIA officials mulled over who should be the cut-out to "distribute propaganda" that would backlash against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Oswald was busy trying to get to the Soviet Union in the most difficult manner possible. Instead of mailing off an application for a visa to get to the USSR, a travel visa application in Oswald's name was prepared for personal delivery to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City. The application stated that Oswald wanted to visit Cuba by himself for two weeks on his way to the USSR.
It was already complicated enough to try to visit two Communist countries at once. It would have been much simpler to visit them in separate visits.
Given that Oswald was determined to visit both nations in one trip, the smarter and easier way would have been to mail visa applications to the Cuban embassy and the Soviet embassy in Mexico City as soon as possible after obtaining the passport in June.
The story is that Oswald chose the bone-headed way, going to the Cuban consulate in person on a Friday afternoon on 9/27/63. Once at the consulate, he handed them an application to obtain a Cuban visa right there on the spot for a Monday departure on 9/30/63, even though he had no Soviet visa. The Cubans called the Soviet consulate, and were told it would take four months to get one. When asked about Oswald's wife, the story goes that Oswald said that Marina was in New York City and she would follow him from there.
When the Cuban consulate workers told him the bad news, Oswald acted out and caused an unforgettably boisterous scene. Despite American claims, none of the consulate employees who were present could positively identify Oswald as the person at the Cuban consulate that day. Cuban consul Eusebio Azcue was emphatic in testifying that Oswald was not the "dark blond" man angrily demanding an instant visa.
Because of the number of potential witnesses to this impersonation at the Cuban consulate, there is no paper trail of documents prior to the assassination showing that someone calling himself Oswald was seen at the Cuban consulate. Helms admitted to the Warren Commission that the CIA was told that Oswald was at the Cuban consulate before JFK was assassinated. When CIA director Richard Helms was asked about this near the end of his life, he claimed that the CIA "didn't want to blow their source". I believe we will discover that the "source" was the impersonator himself.
Look at the end of this article at the CIA's records for suspect RIS officers. RIS stands for Russian Intelligence Services - a generic term for the civilian KGB and the military GRU. These records show that Oswald or someone like him spoke to Kostikov at the Soviet embassy on 9/27/63 and his colleague attache Paul Yatskov on 9/28/63. One way to read this list is that the CIA is listing Oswald as a suspect Russian spy.
Another and even more fascinating way to read these documents is to flip the script and look at the string of REDCAP cases in the summer of 1963 involving Kostikov and other Soviets that tests their potential as possible defectors. If you read from the bottom of the page of the previous hyperlinked item to the top of this one, you'll see a meeting between Oswald and Kostikov and a string of REDCAP cases both before and after.
As discussed in greater depth below, REDCAP not only induced defections, but encouraged possible candidates to "stayed in place" and burrow against the Communist enemy from within without coming to the West. See the REDCAP cases throughout this list and by the names of Soviet embassy officials Kotsikov, Yatskov, and Nechiporenko. Also see a REDCAP memo focused on Kostikov during 9/27/63 itself. Particularly intriguing is a meeting between Kostikov and a David Paton, with the notation "Kostikov had legitimate contact with Paton on visas". There is certainly no such statement after the visa discussions with Oswald.
With or without his knowledge, it looks like Oswald was used for counter-espionage purposes as part of a CIA molehunt for Soviet spies within the agency
The names of both Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife Marina Prusakova were repeatedly misspelled as "Lee Henry Oswald" and "Marina Pusakova" in CIA messages during the time that Oswald was reported to have visited the Cuban and Soviet consulates in Mexico City. It wasn't just a typographical error. This error and others like it had been made repeatedly by the same person.
The CIA's Ann Egerter (also known as Egeter) told Congressional investigators that she worked at the office that spied on their own spies, known as the Counter-Intelligence/Special Investigations Group, or CI/SIG. Egerter assisted in the preparation of two separate CIA messages on 10/10/63, both referring to him as Lee Henry Oswald. One message inaccurately referred to Oswald as "approximately 35 years old, with an athletic build" and the other message more accurately described him as "born 18 Oct 1939, five foot ten inches, light brown wavy hair". In fact, Oswald's central CIA file was wrongly entitled by Egerter as "Lee Henry Oswald" several years earlier when he had defected from the Marines to the Soviet Union. By the time of the weekend of the assassination, even Walter Cronkite was calling him "Lee Henry Oswald".
There was another common practice among the agencies to invert Oswald's name as "Harvey Lee Oswald". Like most people, Lee Oswald never used his middle name except for official purposes. This practice of transposing his names emanated from CIA and military sources, and the FBI eventually picked up on it as well.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) knew about this practice and looked for Oswald files under these various names during their investigation of this case during the 70s.