News / USA

Spy Scandal Will Not Derail US-Russia Relations, Analysts Say

A total of 10 people are in U.S. custody, apparently members of a Russian espionage ring.

U.S. officials say the 10 suspects were working for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service [SVR] and living in the United States under what is known as deep cover.

"That means that they had really integrated themselves into the society and were leading lives like any ordinary citizen: working, going to school, not doing anything to distinguish themselves as being different from their neighbors," said Marshall Goldman of Harvard University.

U.S. officials say the suspects were to, among other things, develop ties in U.S. policy-making circles and send intelligence reports back to Moscow.  They were also to collect information on such subjects as U.S. military affairs, foreign policy issues and congressional matters.

But many experts question whether the alleged Russian agents were successful in their information gathering activities.

One of those experts is Charles Pinck, a partner in The Georgetown Group, a firm specializing in security issues.

"The Russians obviously invested a lot of time and money training these people and sending them over here and supporting them," said Pinck.  "On the other hand, based on the complaint filed against them, it doesn't seem like they accomplished a great deal. After all, they haven't been charged with espionage. They have been charged with not registering as a representative of a foreign government and money laundering, which leads me to believe that two things - either they weren't able to do what they were sent here to do, or B: the FBI wasn't able to catch them in the act of committing espionage, which is a hard thing to do."

Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institution also questions whether the alleged spy ring was effective.

"None of the individuals ever succeeded in getting employment with a U.S. government agency and there was no evidence that any of them succeeded in ever getting access to classified information," said Pifer.  "So apparently that was the decision, or those were the facts that led the Justice Department to opt for the lesser charge of being an undeclared agent for a foreign power."

Several Russian officials have questioned the timing of the arrests, saying it comes days after President Obama and Russian President Medvedev met in Washington and emphasized improved relations between the two countries.

Pifer predicts the alleged spying incident will not damage U.S.-Russian relations.

"I think this is going to be a minor bump," said Pifer.  "The Russian Foreign Ministry said they were unhappy about some aspect of it, why was it announced now. Well there is never a good time to announce this sort of thing. But it seems to me that the U.S.-Russia relationship has progressed a lot in the last 18 months, and I think the relationship has made enough progress where this is not going to be a huge threat to it."

Some analysts say the arrest of the alleged Russian spies is a throwback to the Cold War era.

But Charles Pinck disagrees.

"It's almost when you watch the media it's like okay, espionage started and ended with the Cold War," he added.  "Well the truth is espionage has been going on since the beginning of time.  That's why they call it the world's second oldest profession. So if espionage is the world's second oldest profession, catching spies might be the world's third oldest profession. And this has always gone on."

And says Pinck - it will continue to go on. He says we have to keep finding Russian spies and hopefully, he adds, they won't find ours.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs