Moscow “Unmasks” America’s Spying Techniques Post Cold War

Two ongoing post-Cold War tales bring back ghosts of the Big Game – one is filled with the old-style drama and mystery beloved of film and fiction, the other, told by Russians, is as dry as a dusty accounting ledger. Both are symptoms of the old mistrust still bedeviling Russia's relations with the West.

The Russian Defense Journal's catalogue of conspiracy and penetration techniques – allegedly used by the US to rob Russia of its technological, scientific and military secrets up to the present day – falls into the second category.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin, an old KGB hand himself, recently challenged Russia's film directors to go out and "conquer the world," hoping they would produce movies thrilling enough to reverse the Western stereotypes of the sinister Russian spy bested by the iconic American or British super-agent.

But the post-Cold War period has not stopped the British from keeping one such stereotype alive for the three years since the spy Alexander Litvinenko died in the heart of London of radioactive isotope polonium-210 poisoning. In his dying breath, he accused the KGB and Putin himself of his murder.

All British efforts to have his alleged killer, ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned lawmaker and businessman, extradited have run into a blank Russian wall. In the latest twist in this affair, the British case was set back by German prosecutors who this week for lack of evidence dropped their investigation against Dmitry Kovtun, a businessmen connected to Russian security services and one of the main suspects in the Litvinenko affair.

He was initially suspected of smuggling polonium-210 into London for use in the murder after traces of the poison were found in a Hamburg apartment where Kovtun had stayed days before Litvinenko was poisoned.

Both Lugovoi and Kovtun have always maintained their innocence. And indeed they claim they suffered poisoning symptoms after meeting Litvinenko in London, and that he may have poisoned them.


Moscow's abiding mistrust of the West


The mystery deepens with every new revelation, leaving the British high and dry with no one to bring to trial and their relations with Russia sorely strained, even after British foreign secretary David Miliband's fence-mending visit to Moscow earlier this month.

The Russian Defense Journal's indictment of the United States and its spying methods since the Cold War ended and up to the present day, is dull by comparison but no less damning. Some of the "methods" cited by Russian counter-intelligence are brought out by DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence experts as symptomatic of Moscow's abiding suspicion of Washington's motives.


1. The need for informal US-Russian military-technical cooperation against terror-sponsoring governments is America's ideological pretext for "intelligence sharing."

2. The US pursues a funding strategy for "scientifically" manipulating the "prioritization of the military-technical policies" governing Russia's national security concept and military doctrine.

By this means, as part of its strategic cooperation with Washington, Moscow was influenced some years ago to downgrade the role of strategic nuclear weapons in favor of tactical nuclear weapons,

3. The United States is described as initiating the research project codenamed Alpha for creating an information infrastructure (databases and computer programs etc) for the protection of the world community against ballistic missiles. This sounds laudable. However, this document has undermined Russia's national security by calling into question its legal framework for classifying information as state secrets.


Mutual strategic cooperation lays Russia's secrets open to the US

4. These informal US-Russian cooperation arrangements have drawn into the American net hundreds of Russian officials from dozens of secret and sensitive sites, some of whom acted in violation of Russian criminal law.

By funding "collaborative research" projects, the Americans learned about the effects of nuclear explosions including high- and low-dose radiation on Russia's electricity grid and telecommunications and its land and air military systems. Their contacts inside the Russian research community gained them secret techniques for improving their conventional warheads, especially their armor-piercing and bunker busting weapons and guidance systems.

6. One "cynical" US funding project, costing its sponsor a measly $34,000, tested the consequences of a simulated terrorist nuclear explosion in the Moscow Metro for quantitative estimates of the effects of seismic shock waves in a long tunnel on structures as well as its underground geology.

7. Russian counterintelligence hints broadly that the US Navy's "dangerous and provocative" actions may have been responsible for the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine missile cruiser in the Barents Sea in Aug. 2000 and the loss of all 118 sailors and officers aboard. This tragedy has never been satisfactorily explained. The Americans are now accused by inference of using previous joint exercises to obtain electronic information on how Russian warships prepare and launch sea-based ballistic missiles. Russian Navy specialists suggest the Kursk acted inadvertently as a test target for a US Navy combat training mission.

8. In direct cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, the US acquired substantial

data in such sensitive areas as the development of nuclear weapons, super-thermonuclear warheads and the impact of radiation on people, soil, radar, radio waves and air.


When "research funding" fails, try selling the ideal of an "open society"

9. The outcome of this openness, the journal's sources maintain, was that beneficiaries of past and ongoing American largesse for scientific research, in their role as "independent experts," were instrumental in tilting in America's favor major Russian policy decisions between the two countries, including treaties.

10. Russian counterintelligence officials are said to have seized a sheaf of bilateral draft treaties drawn up by these "independent experts" claiming to represent non-government agencies, in which deliberate discrepancies were introduced in the translations between English and Russian to place the onus of implementation on Moscow.

One of those documents was The Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms -2, which designated a Russian early warning system for missile attack "offensive" and therefore prohibited. Its provisions are still current and valid and allowed the US to install a missile shield in East Europe, say the Russian authors.

11. When funding and strategic cooperation fail to unlock Russian doors to US intelligence, ideology becomes the "open sesame." Young Russians are wooed by the lure of modern societies in which people, finances, resources, labor, culture, art and information are freely exchanged to broaden horizons.

By all these means, Russian counterintelligence accuses the US of building a fifth column inside Russia in the past decade. That of course is Moscow's side of the coin.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence experts emphasize that both powers are as busy spying on each other as they ever were in the Cold War, although the wall dividing them is all but invisible to the untrained eye. Only their methods differ. Whereas American garners rich rewards by overt means, such as research funds and military cooperation in the interests of coexistence and combating international terror, the Russians hold strongly to their classical penetration methods of moles and double agents, along with lavish clandestine funding. Some of their agents have been caught, but no one knows how many are still in place.

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