September 2016 – WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence agencies are expanding spying operations against Russia on a greater scale than at any time since the end of the Cold War, U.S. officials said. The mobilization involves clandestine CIA operatives, National Security Agency cyber-espionage capabilities, satellite systems and other intelligence assets, officials said, describing a shift in resources across spy services that had previously diverted attention from Russia to focus on terrorist threats and U.S. war zones.
U.S. officials said the moves are part of an effort to rebuild U.S. intelligence capabilities that had continued to atrophy even as Russia sought to reassert itself as a global power. Over the past two years, officials said, the United States was caught flat-footed by Moscow’s aggression, including its annexation of Crimea, its intervention in the war in Syria and its suspected role in hacking operations against the United States and Europe. U.S. spy agencies “are playing catch-up big time” with Russia, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. Terrorism remains the top concern for American intelligence services, the official said, but recent directives from the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have moved Russia up the list of intelligence priorities for the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Though hidden from public view, the escalation in espionage activity is part of a broader renewal of conflict and competition between the United States and Russia after a two-decade lull. Surging tensions now cut across nearly every aspect of the U.S-Russia relationship. The hack of the Democratic National Committee has raised fears that Russia is seeking to undermine democratic institutions if not influence the outcome of the American presidential race.
U.S. efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in Syria with Russia have divided Obama administration officials and served as a tacit acknowledgment that Moscow’s intervention succeeded in one of its principal aims: ensuring that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in position to influence any Syria endgame. Even an encounter between Obama and Putin at a recent summit in China turned, at moments, into an tense staring contest.
U.S. officials stressed that while the need for better intelligence on Russia is considered an urgent priority, there is no intent to return the CIA or other spy agencies to Cold War footings. At the height of that decades-long conflict, former officials said, U.S. spy agencies often devoted 40 percent or more of their personnel and resources to tracking the Soviet Union and its Communist satellites. U.S. officials said that CIA and other agencies now devote at most 10 percent of their budgets to Russia-related espionage, a percentage that has risen over the past two years. Critics contend that U.S. intelligence agencies have been too slow to boost collection against Russia and respond to its provocations abroad, repeatedly enabling Putin to gain an upper hand. –Washington Post
The Cold War that never ended: For Russia, the Cold War never really ended despite the so-called “collapse” of the Soviet Union and the much touted Western-style reforms implemented by Gorbachev under the guise of Glasnost and “Perestroika.” The Russian intelligence apparatus in the U.S. went into high gear in the last few decades, embedding legions of soviet agents and sleeper cells into the U.S. and in other Western countries. The Russian objective under old communist Russia remains the same today as it did under the iron-hand of Joseph Stalin – the ultimate destruction of all enemies of the glorious Motherland. The Russian mentality is equivocal to the Eastern-mindset that drove the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of WWII and it is the same mentality that drives radical Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers of the Middle East – sacrifice anything for everything. Russian espionage ideology is inexorable and simple: victory at all and any cost, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. –Alvin Conway
The Americans (FX Network): Russian sleeper agent (Elizabeth Jennings) orders her daughter to infiltrate her local church and spy on church members who suspect they are really KGB agents (contains profanity)