US, Russian spies often cooperate despite differences, says CIA director

John BrennanRussia is being “very aggressive” toward the United States, but cooperation on counter-terrorism between Moscow and Washington is “highly active” despite the differences between them, according to the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. John Brennan, a longtime CIA career officer, who has led the Agency for nearly three years, spoke on National Public Radio on Wednesday about US-Russian relations, Syria and the Islamic State. He told the Washington-based radio station that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Russia as a superpower that has to assert its influence beyond its immediate region. Thus, said Brennan, Moscow’s actions in Ukraine could be understood in the context of Russia’s regional-power doctrine; but its “very assertive, very aggressive” support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is part of a wider strategy of geopolitical domination that includes the Middle East.

Brennan said that Russia is losing ground in Ukraine because its “hybrid war” is “not going as planned” and Putin “has found that he’s in a bit of a quandary” in the former Soviet republic. Not only is Putin “not realizing his objectives” in Ukraine, added the CIA director, but the widening geopolitical confrontation between Russian and the West is “causing a chill […] even in intelligence channels”. He added, however that the CIA continues to work closely with the Russian intelligence community in counter-terrorism operations directed against Islamist militants. Brennan described the CIA’s relationship with Russian intelligence operatives as a “very factual, informative exchange. If we get information about threats to Russian citizens or diplomats, we will share it with the Russians”, said the CIA director, adding: “they do the same with us”.

Brennan, a fluent Arabic speaker who spent many years in Saudi Arabia, used the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as an example of a collaborative project between the CIA and its Russian counterparts. “We worked very closely with them” during the Sochi games, said Brennan, in order to “try to prevent terrorist attacks”. “And we did so very successfully”, concluded the CIA director.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 26 February 2016 | Permalink

Ex-KGB agent, wanted for murder in Britain, to run for mayor



Andrey Lugovoy, who is wanted in Britain for the 2006 murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, is poised to run for mayor in the Russian city of Sochi. British authorities believe that Lugovoy, who served in the KGB and in Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) from 1987 to 1996, carried out the radioactive poisoning of Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer who had defected to the UK. Litvinenko, who was a vocal critic of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting Lugovoy in a London restaurant. The latter is believed by British authorities to have acted “with the backing of the Russian state”. A victory by Lugovoy in next month’s mayoral race could potentially pose a diplomatic challenge for London, as Sochi will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. If he wins, therefore, the prime murder suspect will be expected to lead local officials in “welcoming the British team to the Games”. Britain’s Daily Telegraph notes that such a possibility could ultimately “lead to the first ever British boycott of an Olympic Games”. Read more of this post

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