In 2017, the United States, as part of a secret mission, successfully exported from Russia one of the spies of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who worked in the Russian government. This was reported by CNN, citing officials from the Donald Trump administration.
The spy allegedly had access to Putin and could photograph documents from his desk. He has been providing information for more than 10 years. The interlocutor of the journalists added that the Russian government did not have an “equal alternative” that could provide information about the Russian leader. Officials believe that recalling the spy had great consequences, since “it is impossible to restore such an opportunity in a short time,” especially in Russia, where security requirements are high. CNN omitted some details about the source so as not to create a risk of disclosing his identity.
According to CNN, the informant was taken out because of concern that Trump and members of his administration had mistreated classified information, this could help expose the source. The decision on his evacuation was made after the meeting of Trump with Sergey Lavrov in May 2017. Then the American president shared classified information about the Islamic State terrorist organization banned in Russia. After that, Mike Pompeo, who was then the director of the CIA, said that too much information was leaking about the source.
A few weeks after the decision to export the informant from Russia, Trump met privately with Putin, and after that, he seized the translator’s notes. Because of this, intelligence was worried that the US president could give secret information to the Russian leader. Intelligence concerns intensified after the publication of a report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. The television channel said that the export of a spy is an emergency measure, which is used only when they suspect that he is in immediate danger.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said CNN’s material “is not only wrong, but it can endanger lives.” Director of Public Relations Brittany Bramell denies that the cause of the alleged operation could be the actions of the US president, who receives a lot of classified information every day. Trump himself said that he did not know about the story of the alleged export of US intelligence agent from Russia.
No, I don’t know anything about it. I see that the CIA answered perfectly. So what the CIA said completely suits me. I heard that it answered. I know nothing.
The New York Times: CIA source gains access to the top of the Kremlin
Following CNN’s publication, The New York Times released its investigation . Unlike the television channel, the publication indicated that the decision to recall the U.S. source was made in 2016, and not in 2017. Journalists said that a Russian middle-level official was recruited more than 10 years ago and carefully handled while he was moving up the career ladder.
According to NYT interlocutors, the spy was not close to Putin, but often saw him. His data helped the CIA understand Putin’s role in meddling in US elections. The spy’s information was so important that CIA Director John O. Brennan hid the information obtained by the operative, even in daily reports to then-President Barack Obama.
The CIA began to worry about the security of the spy in 2016 and decided to withdraw him from Russia. The source allegedly refused because of the family, which caused suspicions. Some scouts began to believe that he might be a double agent. But after the CIA’s second request, the spy agreed to leave Russia.
NYT reported that the decision to take it out was made after many media outlets, including NBC, NYT and The Washington Post, wrote that US intelligence was receiving data from a source in the Russian government in the materials on “Russian intervention.”
Russian media: CNN named agent – Oleg Smolenkov
The merciless PR man on the Telegram channel said that Oleg Smolenkov, a former employee of the President’s Administrative Department, could have been named CNN spy. About his disappearance in 2017, wrote Daily Storm. The security forces then opened a criminal case under the article “Murder”: Smolenkov with his wife and three children went on vacation to Montenegro and disappeared.
Kommersant found data on where Smolenkov and his family may now be. Journalists found information about the acquisition on June 5, 2018 by certain Oleg and Antonina Smolenkovs of a house in the United States. Smolenkov’s wife is called Antonina, according to media reports, she also worked in the government apparatus.
A Kommersant source in US government agencies confirmed that the CNN publication refers specifically to Smolenkov. Some Russian interlocutors said that the official was only involved in organizing trips and personal instructions from his superiors. Others said he enjoyed the confidence of Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov, who has direct access to Putin.
Peskov: CNN’s findings – the “pulp fiction” genre
Spokesman for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but he was fired in 2016 or 2017. The official’s position did not provide for contact with Putin, Smolenkov was not the highest, so-called “decree” official, he was appointed not by presidential decree. “Everything is fine with the work of the Russian counterintelligence,” added Peskov.
All these discussions of the American media about who urgently exported whom, from whom they saved, and so on – this, you know, is such a genre, rather, pulp fiction, “pulp fiction”, so let’s leave it up to them.Dmitry Peskovspokesman for the president of Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called rumors publications about the work of the alleged US spy in Russia. “I never saw him, never met him. I don’t want to comment on rumors, ”the official said. He added that at a meeting with Trump in 2017, no one gave anyone any state secrets.