The biggest spy swap between the US and Russia since the Cold War is front page news in Russian papers – but Muscovites seem unimpressed with the exchange which they see as little more than political manoeuvring.
A total of 10 Russian agents were deported from the States on Friday in exchange for four prisoners accused by Moscow of spying for the West.
In the Russian capital, one man said he thought the swap was orchestrated by “forces opposed to the warming of relations between Russia and the US” and described it as a “soap bubble”.
Another said it was a deliberate attempt to spoil Russian President, Dimitry Medvedev’s recent trip to Washington.
The arrests in American came just three days after Medvedev left the US capital.It is thought the 10 had been under surveillance for up to a decade.
They were swapped in Vienna for four Russians, including a nuclear scientist, a former military intelligence agent and a former KGB operative who were serving jail terms in Russia on spy charges.
Washington appears to be making light of the whole affair, judging by Vice-President Joe Biden’s appearance on the Jay Leno show.
The talk show host showed a glamourous picture of one of the Russian spies, Anna Chapman, and asked: “Do we have any spies that hot?”.
To a huge round of applause Biden replied: “Let me be clear, it wasn’t my idea to send her back.”