Juliana surmises that the Russian goal was less to gather intelligence than to gain influence.
If so, the Russians should look at the more modern and effective methods used by the Saudis. They don’t befriend professors and other experts – they give millions of dollars to universities and think tanks to ensure that professors and other experts at these institutions will be friendly to them.
The Turks play this game, too. As Claudia Rosett recently reported, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars bestowed its “Public Service” award on Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu – after he had undermined U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran.
In tandem with rewarding Davutoglu for catalyzing “the development of Turkey’s foreign relations,” the Wilson Center also honored a Turkish business tycoon, Ferit Sahenk, with its Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. …
[I]t’s hard to escape the conclusion that the chief attributes the Wilson Center has just sought to honor in Istanbul are antagonism toward American values (Davutoglu) and enormous amounts of money (Sahenk).
The Iranians have been getting increasingly creative in this sphere as well.
I have more on the Saudis and their idea of friendship in my NRO column today.