Espionage

   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.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • espionage — es·pi·o·nage / es pē ə ˌnäzh, ˌnäj, nij/ n: the practice of gathering, transmitting, or losing through gross negligence information relating to the defense of the U.S. with the intent that or with reason to believe that the information will be… …   Law dictionary

  • espionage — es‧pi‧o‧nage [ˈespiənɑːʒ] noun [uncountable] when people secretly find out a country s or company s secrets: • He was cleared of mounting a campaign of industrial espionage against his main rival. * * * espionage UK US /ˈespiənɑːʒ/ noun [U] ► the …   Financial and business terms

  • Espionage — Es pi*o*nage (?; 277), n. [F. espionnage, fr. espionner to spy, fr. espion spy, OF. espie. See {Espy}.] The practice or employment of spies; the practice of watching the words and conduct of others, to make discoveries, as spies or secret… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Espionage — exfiltration hackint information broker information superiority information warfare rumint sleeper …   New words

  • espionage — 1793, from Fr. espionnage spying, from M.Fr. espionner to spy, from O.Fr. espion spy, probably via It. spione from a Germanic source akin to O.H.G. spehon spy (see SPY (Cf. spy)) …   Etymology dictionary

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  • espionage — Espionage, or spying, has reference to the crime of gathering, transmitting or losing information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the… …   Black's law dictionary

  • espionage — ► NOUN ▪ the practice of spying or of using spies. ORIGIN French, from espion a spy …   English terms dictionary

  • espionage — [es′pē ə näzh΄, es′pē ənäj΄] n. [Fr espionnage < espionner, to spy < espion < It spione < spia, spy < Gmc * speha, akin to OHG spehon: see SPY] 1. the act of spying 2. the use of spies by a government to learn the military secrets… …   English World dictionary

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