The US has continued to try to limit the fall out from yesterday’s arrests of alleged Russian spies saying it will press ahead with improving relations with Moscow.
But reports that President Obama knew about the operation even as he met Russia’s President Medvedev last week, have raised questions.
As more has become known about the covers adopted by the 11 suspects, allegedly to gather political information for the Russian government, it is being asked just how sincere is Washington in wanting to establish warmer ties with its former foe.
European Affairs Secretary Philip Gordon spoke to reporters.
“We are beyond the Cold War. I think our relations absolutely demonstrate that but, as I say, I do not think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.”
In Russia the spy-saga is front page news.
The timing of the FBI swoop has exposed a lingering distrust, particularly as the new US-Russia disarmament treaty is up for ratification.
Andrei Kortunov of the Eurasia Foundation explained:
“Both in Russia and in the United States there are forces which are very sceptical about the improvement of relations; they think that this improvement cannot be stable, that Russia and the US remain antagonists, that you shouldn’t trust the other side.”
An angry Kremlin has denied the allegations of espionage, but Russian displeasure is expected to be confined to the usual tit-for-tat expulsions following such spying disputes.