Russia has accused the CIA of “crossing the red line” in its recruitment zeal targeting the Russian security services. Adding insult to injury Russia has not only made public the arrest and expulsion of a CIA officer working undercover in the U.S. embassy in Moscow, but also revealed the identity of the CIA station chief here.
Third Secretary Ryan Fogle was caught on Tuesday trying to recruit an officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main counter-espionage agency. The diplomat was paraded on Russian television, wearing a wig and carrying spy gear.
The publicity angered Washington because normally the exposed spies are quietly ordered to leave without identities being revealed.
However, authorities went a step further and disclosed the name of the head of CIA operations in Moscow, Steven Hall, a Counsellor at the U.S. Embassy.
The disclosure was a breach of diplomatic protocol. According to a post-Cold War trust-building tradition, the spy agencies of Russia and the U.S. reveal to each other the identities of their respective station chiefs, but do not publicise them.
An FSB spokesman explained the move saying the CIA had “crossed the red line” ignoring repeated warnings to stop trying to recruit Russian secret services personnel.
“The FSB issued an official warning to the CIA station chief in Moscow Steven Hall in October 2011 that if provocative recruitment activities continued in relation to officers of Russian special services, the FSB would take ‘mirror’ measures in relation to CIA officers,’ spokesman Nikolai Zakharov told the Interfax news wire. The warning was also passed on to Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper.
However, recruiting attempts continued. In December 2012 another U.S. spy, Third Secretary Benjamin Dillon, was caught trying to recruit a Russian secret services “turncoat.”
“In the hope that the CIA leadership would draw the necessary conclusions, we did not make this case public. But apparently the adherence by the FSB to the principles of professional ethics was not properly appreciated,” Mr. Zakharov said.