Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cold War Redux: Ruskies Admit UK Spying

The Alexander Litvinenko inquiry took an interesting turn yesterday as Litvinenko's former boss said Russian spies in the UK may have been the murderers of the Polonium 210 victim. The Times of London reports from Moscow:

Alexander Litvinenko was a traitor who would have deserved execution in Soviet times, his former chief in Russia’s security service said last night.

Alexander Gusak accused Litvinenko of helping British secret services unmask Russian spies after he fled to London from Moscow. He claimed that furious agents considered assassinating him in revenge.

“I consider him a direct traitor because he betrayed what is most sacred for any operative — his operational sources. His sources came to me and they complained that your [British] secret service officers had found them, and asked what to do,” Mr Gusak said.

Mr Gusak was Litvinenko’s former commander in the Organised Crime Division of the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB.
Reagan may have broken up the Soviet empire, but he apparently didn't completely stop the Cold War. The article makes it sound like Russia's got a good number of spies actively at work in the UK:
Mr Gusak, who once headed a secret unit described by Litvinenko as a “death squad”, disclosed that he had been approached by FSB agents who believed their names had been passed to the British. “I’ll tell you honestly, I didn’t advise any of them to go and kill Litvinenko, though one of them did say: ‘Listen, he’s done you so much wrong — shall I bring you his head?’,” Mr Gusak told BBC TV’s Newsnight. (video clip here)
That doesn't sound like he's talking about a couple guys. What do you suppose they're after? Business intelligence is a possibility in this odd time of communism and capitalism mingled, but so is good old Cold War stuff.

Russia sees its interests in the old British colony of India weakening; that would be worth a snoop or two. As would No. 10's plans for Iraq and Iran, where the Ruskies are deeply involved. And, as arms sales continue to be a good source of capital for Putin, getting the goods on new UK weapons systems could translate quickly to rubles.

Gusak's admission also tells us this: For the Russians, the UK would be a spying backwater compared to the US. What are they up to here? What is our counterintelligence operation doing about it?

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