Do the Americans enjoy visiting Russia

Exposure of US agents: Moscow in spy fever

The Russian secret service makes the identities of American agents public. It is unclear whether this will seriously damage relations between the two countries.

Exposed? Ryan Fogle after his arrest. Image: ap

MOSCOW taz | The Russian secret service FSB made the full identity of the office manager of the secret service CIA at the US embassy in Moscow public on Saturday. At the beginning of the week, an employee of the US mission was caught red-handed trying to recruit a Russian agent from the North Caucasian crisis area.

The exposed suspected US agent Ryan Fogle had officially worked at the embassy as the third political secretary for three years. The bureau chief of the US foreign intelligence service was officially warned in 2011 not to take any further steps to recruit Russian security forces, Interfax quoted an employee of the FSB secret service as saying.

Another alleged agent was said to have been expelled from the country for similar acts in January. Even well-informed observers are not yet clear whether the deployment of Russian counterintelligence is a concerted action that has been approved by the Kremlin. It is also controversial whether Moscow actually violated diplomatic conventions by naming it.

Only the week before last, the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow had brought some movement back into the deadlocked and resentful mutual relations. After the attack in Boston, traces of which can be traced back to the North Caucasus, the two countries wanted to work more closely together again, particularly in the fight against terrorism. With the convening of a joint Syria conference at the end of May, both sides initially demonstrated goodwill. Even the discussion about the hotly contested missile defense shield in Europe should start again.

Disruptive maneuvers and upsets

Shortly afterwards, however, the declarations of intent were overshadowed by Russian arms deliveries to Syria. Moscow's demand to include Iran in the Syria conference will also have caused irritation in Washington.

Minor disruptions and resentments have been an integral part of Russia's American policy since President Vladimir Putin officially resumed business. Putin's spokesman commented on the espionage case as "an ineffective contribution to building trust between Russia and the US, which should be raised to a new level." However, both sides stressed that the espionage hunt will not affect relations.

This also seems to be meant. While Moscow's secret service is exposed, the executive floor is conspicuously in the background. The staged exposure like in a cheap agent film also suggests that the performance is only intended for a domestic audience. According to the motto: "The USA continues to spy like in the Cold War, but we are on our guard!"

Some observers also pointed to the parallels to the last major espionage scandal in 2010, when the FBI excavated a ring of Russian residents in the United States. The long-time agents still worked with such antiquated tools as secret ink and mounds of earth as hiding places. The Russian foreign intelligence service received ridicule and malice. The agency has now returned the favor to the Americans, whose spy allegedly moved around Moscow with a compass and map and camouflaged with a wig.