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Russian Spies: Returning or Never Left?

Toby Westerman

Reports of large-scale Russian spying against the United States are being denied, but recent history since the collapse of the USSR demonstrates a consistent pattern of espionage by the Moscow elite against the U.S.

A Russian "intelligence service veteran" ridiculed a Time magazine article entitled “The Russians Are Coming” (February 7, 2005, online). The Time article asserted that Moscow is using "more than 100 known spies" using official cover - usually diplomats - in the U.S. with an unknown number of intelligence officers operating without official cover. The article quoted an unidentified former senior U.S. intelligence official as stating that the Russian spies are "busy as hell," but their exact goals unknown.

Putin, a former KGB agent

Former KGB agent Vladimir Putin is infiltrating the U.S. with spies
The Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, citing a Russian “intelligence senior veteran” speaking on condition of anonymity, rated the Time article as unimportant, the only real goal of the piece being an increase for the FBI's counter-intelligence budget.

"It seems that such a fuss is caused …. to increase the allocation for the secret services' [counter-intelligence] activity," declared RIA Novosti's undisclosed source.

"The dressing-down, given to the U.S. secret service after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, should also be taken into consideration .… they have to try to somehow prove themselves…" the RIA Novosti source stated. There are, however, adequate reasons not to dismiss the Time article, but Moscow's response through RIA Novosti.

From the arrest of Aldrich Ames in 1994, to the discovery of the deep cover infiltration of Dmitry Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya in 1996, to the "catastrophic" infiltration of Robert Hanssen, Moscow has continued to maintained a sophisticated espionage effort against the United States.

Ames and Hanssen continued their espionage careers on behalf of Moscow, uninterrupted from the Soviet era to the establishment of the "new" Russia. Dimitry and Yelena operated as Ian and Laurie Lambert, names taken from the records of deceased infants. These deep cover intelligence officers began their spy efforts before the collapse of the USSR, and continued their difficult and complicated assignment unencumbered by the "fall" of Communism in Russia.

Various sources have noted an increase in Moscow's espionage activity since the ascension of former KGB spymaster Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency. Lt. Col. Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence offices who sought political asylum in Great Britain, revealed that intense pressure is being placed upon Russians in Western nations to spy for Moscow, including threats of prosecution in Russia.

The real fault with the Time article is not its assertion of intense Russian spying, but that the article does not fully explore the depth of Moscow's espionage resources and efforts.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted February 10, 2005

Toby Westerman publishes
International News Analysis - Today
An investigative, analytical, and uncompromising weekly analysis of the world situation

Contact T. Westerman at
or P.O. BOX 5182, Rockford, ILL, 61125-0182

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