War & Peace

Here’s How Russia Cases Potential US Spies

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By Saagar Enjeti

The Russian government’s spy recruiting techniques were on full display in a 2015 FBI document detailing efforts to turn former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.

After intelligence agents find a target, they establish a casual relationship with them in a direct line of communication. In Page’s case, a Russian officer allegedly sent him an email after meeting him at 2013 conference on energy issues, according to CNN.

“The Russians are looking for people that they think are important in the West, important in political, business and economic circles. … They target people they think are going to be useful to them one way or the other,” William Browder, an American CEO who did business in Russia told NPR.

The next step involves convincing a target to share information that may even be publicly accessible in order to establish trust between the two parties. Intelligence officials then try and parlay this trust into coaxing their target to disclose useful or classified information — in some cases without regard to what to happens to the source.

“You promise a favor for a favor,” one Russian agent told another involved in attempting to recruit Page, adding, “I will feed him empty promises. You get the documents from him, and tell him to go f*** himself.”

FBI documents reveal Page handed over records about his energy business to a Russian operative posing as a businessman who claimed he could help Page broker deals in Russia.

Russia’s willingness to burn Page after obtaining information is a well-known espionage tactic, the FBI document reviewed by CNN reveals. This tactic includes “cheating, promising favors, and then discarding the intelligence source once the relevant information is obtained by the SVR.”

Russian intelligence officers reportedly targeted Page in order to glean economic information regarding possible future U.S. sanctions, according to The New York Times.

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