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Resolution of spy case reflects improved US-Russia ties

The smooth and quick handling of the spy scandal by Russia and the US is a reflection of the improved ties between both the nations, a senior Obama Administration official has said.



Washington: The smooth and quick handling
of the spy scandal by Russia and the US, which had the
potential to snowball into a major crisis, is a reflection of
the improved ties between both the nations, a senior Obama
Administration official has said.

"I think in many respects the handling of this case
and its aftermath reflects the progress that we`ve made in
US-Russian relations," a senior US official said.

The official, talking to reporters on background,
said after an initial statement by the Russian foreign
ministry denying the charges, Russian moved very quickly to
resolve the Cold war style spy scandal, including by
immediately acknowledging the Russian citizenship of the
individuals involved.
As part of their plea agreement, 10 individuals,
arrested by the FBI earlier, agreed to disclose their Russian
identities and be immediately expelled from the US.

In turn Russia agreed to release four individuals who
they had charged with working on behalf of Western
governments. The official said the timing of the arrest of the
10 individuals was driven by FBI`s knowledge that one of the
individuals intended to depart the United States.

The fact that it came on the heels of the successful
June 24 US-Russia Summit in Washington was coincidental, the
official said.

"As the June summit indicated, we have a full agenda
to pursue with the Russian Government, and we`re confident
that the new approach to Russia pursued by President Obama
will continue to advance our strategic interests," the
official said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that no one should
be surprised that some vestiges of the past remain or that
Russia has an active intelligence service.

The official said the US drove the terms of this
arrangement, which was based on national security as well as
humanitarian grounds.

"After many years of monitoring the individuals, we
were confident that we`d gain no significant national security
benefit from their further incarceration.
As part of their plea agreement, 10 individuals,
arrested by the FBI earlier, agreed to disclose their Russian
identities and be immediately expelled from the US.

In turn Russia agreed to release four individuals who
they had charged with working on behalf of Western
governments. The official said the timing of the arrest of the
10 individuals was driven by FBI`s knowledge that one of the
individuals intended to depart the United States.

The fact that it came on the heels of the successful
June 24 US-Russia Summit in Washington was coincidental, the
official said.

"As the June summit indicated, we have a full agenda
to pursue with the Russian Government, and we`re confident
that the new approach to Russia pursued by President Obama
will continue to advance our strategic interests," the
official said.

At the same time, he acknowledged that no one should
be surprised that some vestiges of the past remain or that
Russia has an active intelligence service.

The official said the US drove the terms of this
arrangement, which was based on national security as well as
humanitarian grounds.

"After many years of monitoring the individuals, we
were confident that we`d gain no significant national security
benefit from their further incarceration.
Terming the busting of the Russian spy network as an
important achievement, the official said the US has stripped
these illegal agents of their ability to operate here, and has
shut down this program here that had been running for many
years.

"And I think, for the future, we have demonstrated
our very strong counterintelligence capabilities, and that
ought to serve as a warning to any other governments that
might try to undertake a similar kind of operation in the
future.

So, I do think it is an important achievement
today," the official said.

"The pragmatic way in which the aftermath has been
handled, I think clearly serves the interests of the United
States since a further incarceration of these individuals
wasn`t going to bring us any further significant national
security benefit, and we did want to take advantage of the
opportunity to secure the release of the four Russian
individuals who were going to be coming out.

So, in that sense, I think it served our interest,"
the official explained.

PTI

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