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KGB named U.S. Moscow embassy counsellor Steven Hall as CIA Moscow station chief

Publication time: 18 May 2013, 03:01

As reported by Russian (also in English) and western media, late on Friday, May 18, 2013, the KGB (FSB) has officially confirmed that it cautioned the CIA Moscow Station Chief, US Moscow Embassy Counsellor Steven Hall (or Holl, in Russian could mean both) against further attempts to recruit officers of Russian special services.

"In October 2011, the FSB issued an official warning to the CIA station chief in Moscow that if provocative recruitment actions continued in relation to officers of Russian special services, Russia's FSB would take "mirror" measures in relation to CIA officers, said. In this statement, the FSB gave the surnames of concrete Russian citizens whom CIA operatives had tried to approach, as well as information about these CIA operatives. Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper was notified of the situation as well", a KGB spokesman said late Friday in an interview to the main Russian TV channel Pervy Kanal (see the video in Russian at this link).


The London-based Daily Telegraph reports that Mr. Hall is still in Moscow as the CIA chief:


"A diplomat with the same name is listed as a Counsellor in the US Moscow embassy in the autumn-winter 2012-13 edition of a directory of foreign diplomatic, media and business offices in the city".

The paper adds that the disclosure of the name of Steven Hall as the CIA Moscow Station Chief is a reaction of the KGB (FSB) on the situation over the April 15 Boston incident when both sides accuse each other of "dropping the ball", i.e. holding responsibility for two small blasts during a sports event.

Another British newspaper, The Guardian, writes:

"Oleg Kalugin (a butcher from the KGB 5th Directorate responsible for persecution of Soviet dissidents - KC), a former KGB general turned Kremlin critic now living in the US, said: "This is a deliberate attempt to make the situation worse than it is. It's an invitation to the US to do the same and they probably will - and no one will gain) except for the public, and it's the main thing - KC). As Hillary Clinton, the former [US] secretary of state, put it just a few months ago: we are watching the process of re-Sovietisation of Russia. I think this is precisely what has been happening."

Russian officials, including Putin, have accused the US of fomenting discontent against him in Russia, as well as orchestrating the uprisings around the Middle East".

The Washington bureau of the Russian KGB news agency RIA News writes in a report by its Washington correspondent Carl Schreck:

"Certainly throughout the Cold War, and even after that, there was a practice of not naming the head of the [spy agencies] in the respective countries," said Peter Earnest, who operated intelligence collection and covert operations in Europe and the Middle East during a 35-year career with the CIA.

 

"It's very situational, and the fact that you and I and the public don't know what occasioned the takedown of Fogle means we don't know what the signal [from Russia] was," Earnest, founding executive director of the International Spy Museum in Washington, told RIA News. "That makes it doubly hard to know the signal of this latest development is. It sort of deepens the mystery."

 

"The leak represents a serious breach in protocol, said Melvin Goodman, who served as division chief and senior analyst at the CIA's Office of Soviet Affairs in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

Goodman, who spent 24 years as a CIA analyst specializing in Soviet affairs, said the spy spat surprised him given public overtures from both countries in recent weeks indicating they were interested in cooperating on the investigation of last month's Boston Marathon bombings and bringing an end to the civil war in Syria.

 

"These things are usually done quietly," Goodman told RIA News on Friday, adding that the release of the name is "unprecedented" in the history of US relations with Russia and the Soviet Union.

 

Disclosure of a CIA operative's name in such a fashion is typically a death knell for the agent's career, Goodman added.

"He could stay operational clandestinely, but I don't see how they could send him out under any cover," he said.

 

"If Russia's reaction was indeed precipitated by CIA operatives' aggressive attempts to recruit Russian intelligence officers, Washington "may just decide to let it go". "But without knowing what some of the operational details are, I would hesitate to speculate on this," Goodman said. "This past week suggests that something else is going on," he said.

 

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security services at New York University, called the naming of Steven Hall as the station chief a "definite escalation" in the wake of Fogle's brief detention and subsequent eviction from Russia, where he served as a third secretary in the political section at the US embassy.

 

"It's almost as if the Russians are inviting the Americans to respond, but as it is they seem to have Washington off balance," Galeotti told RIA News. Without the full picture of the circumstances surrounding Fogle's detention and the public naming of the purported station chief, it is difficult to predict how Washington might respond",

 

Neither the US State Department nor the CIA responded to requests for comment Friday.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia's correspondent of The Guardian, Miriam Edler, writes on her Twitter: "Russia publicly IDs CIA station chief in Moscow. As the kids say, shit just got real."

Her friend Ella Braigen, an American expat in Moscow, adds: "Is Iron Curtain just around the corner?!"

Department of Monitoring

Kavkaz Center



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