During the Soviet era, the Kremlin developed a global espionage network, using agents of the KGB, the military’s secret service apparatus, and Communist sympathizers in Third World countries. The main target of such activities was the United States, but other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, particularly Great Britain and West Germany, were also targeted, as well as neighboring countries such as Turkey and Japan. During the 1980s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) began to develop spy rings that were disconnected from the embassy system and which used corporate rather than diplomatic covers; these individuals are referred to as “NOCs” (nonofficial cover). Aeroflot, Gazprom, and Lukoil—among other Russian firms—have been implicated in such activities. While the transition to democracy reduced the need for a large internal security force, the Russian Federation maintained much of the USSR’s foreign espionage network through its military wing, the Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU, and the FSB.
   During the post-Soviet period, a number of Americans have been convicted of spying for Moscow, including Aldrich Ames in 1994 and Robert Hanssen in 2001. After a relative decrease in activity in the late Yeltsin administration, Vladimir Putin, a former foreign intelligence operative, beefed up the FSB’s Foreign Intelligence Service (known as the SVR, or Sluzhba vneshnei razvedki). While the focus of espionage has shifted toward industrial espionage (particularly in the computer and software sector and dual-use technologies like lasers), military readiness is still an area of intense interest. In 2009, two Russian diplomats were ejected from NATO headquarters in Brussels for engaging in espionage. Energy issues top the list of espionage-related activities in the European Union. Russia also has a prodigious network of spies across the near abroad, particularly in more hostile countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Baltic States.
   In terms of counterintelligence, Russia moved against agents working for Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in 2001, and stepped up its defense against the spy services of China, Israel, and Iran. While the same diligence was applied to the United States, the security services simultaneously shared intelligence on Islamist extremists with Washington after the September 11 attacks. In the last years of the Putin administration, accusations flew between Moscow and the UK, with both claiming Cold War levels of spy activity in their respective countries; a number of diplomatic expulsions led to a further chilling of relations. Moscow’s decision in 2008 to redefine espionage as including the delivery of sensitive information to foreign nongovernmental organizations—an outgrowth of the dispute with the British Council over its activities in Russia—drew condemnation from the international community.
   See also Fradkov, Mikhail; Litvinenko, Aleksandr.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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