Busting of a Russian spy network that included “deep cover” agents, is unlikely to have any adverse impact on U.S.-Russia relationship, which has improved significantly under the Obama Administration, White House has said.
“I do not believe that this will affect the reset of our relationship with Russia,” White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs told reporters.
He was flooded with questions about the arrest of 10 individuals by the FBI on Monday including eight “deep cover” agents, spying for the Russian spy network.
“We have made great progress in the past year and a half, working on issues of mutual concern from a New START treaty to working together on things like in the United Nations dealing with North Korea and Iran. So I do not think that this will affect those relations,” Gibbs said.
The President knew about the network, before he met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, but the issues were not discussed when the two leaders met at White House last week, he said.
“This was an action that was taken by law enforcement, handled that way, handled appropriately, and done in a timely manner,” Gibbs said as he tried to downplay on the impact this incident would have on U.S.-Russia relationship. “This will not (affect the policy of reset).”
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon said that the U.S. was in touch with the Russian government on this issue both here and in Moscow.
“When President Obama announced the new approach to Russia 18 months ago, he made clear that we had common interests with Russia. We wanted to pursue in nuclear non-proliferation, Afghanistan, disarmament, economics, and we were determined to pursue those where we had common interests. We would and there would be other issues that we disagreed on, but we were not going to forgo the opportunity to pursue our common interests because there were things we disagreed on,” Gordon said, adding the spying case be seen in that context.
“We feel we have made significant progress in the 18 months that we have been pursuing this different relationship with Russia. We think we have something to show for it, and that was clear at the meeting of the two presidents last week. And all along, we have made clear that there are still things we disagree on. President Obama never fails to bring those things up when he sees his Russian counterpart,” he said.
“We will continue to do that in the future. But I think you can expect that we will also continue to work diplomatically and successfully with Russia in these areas where we have already demonstrated we both gain from doing so,” Gordon said.
Noting that the Obama Administration has been focused on resetting its relationship with Russia and that it will continue to do so, Gordon said: “The timing (of the spy case) underscores that the Department of Justice is in a different channel. They’re moving on the appropriate timetable. We are moving on the diplomatic issues.”
Gordon said: “We would like to get to the point where there is just so much trust and cooperation between the United States and Russia that nobody would think of turning to intelligence means to find out things that they couldn’t find out in other channels. We’re apparently not there yet. I don’t think anyone in this room is shocked to have discovered that.”
Observing that the U.S. and Russia are moving towards a more trusting relationship, he said: “We’re beyond the Cold War. I think our relations absolutely demonstrate that. But as I say, I don’t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.”
Spy Network Bust Will Not Affect Ties With Russia: US
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