Countries Spy on Each Other

by Andrew Stuttaford

David, I’d certainly agree with you that the alleged Russian spy ring might have had the potential for reasonably serious mischief. That’s something that should not be downplayed. And it isn’t: thus the arrests.

At the same time, it should not be overplayed either. Those convivial burgers were just fine. Countries spy on each other. They spy on their friends, their enemies, and those rivals who are somewhere in between. It’s what countries do. And sometimes the spies get caught. That’s part of the game, too — as are the remarks of varying degrees of hypocrisy (from all sides) in the aftermath of such arrests.

Seen in that light, I wouldn’t worry too much about the emollient muttering coming out of the State Department. There are, undoubtedly, reasons to worry about this administration’s attitude to Russia (not least the signs that it does not really “get” Eastern Europe), but some meaningless mush from Washington ought not to be among them.

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