A senior editor at the Economist demonstrates that the Russian secret police state is alive and well and watching the West.
In a deeply researched though occasionally murky work, Lucas (The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West, 2008) tracks the historical tentacles of East Bloc spying as well as its most recent infiltrations in the West. In the damning series of early chapters, the author slams Vladimir Putin’s “pirate state,” a regime mired in corruption, for flagrant disregard of the law—one example: the 2009 death in custody of Hermitage Capital Management tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Lucas then concentrates on the espionage history of the Baltic states, “an ideal base for anti-communist activities.” He writes that he was fascinated as a youth by spy literature and a crumbling Eastern Europe and “studied unfashionable languages such as Polish, and practiced them by befriending bitter old émigrés in the dusty clubs and offices of west London.” In order to gain knowledge, influence and power from the West, the Soviets have to steal secrets; they do so by employing innumerable “new illegals” who have moved to the West from Soviet-bloc countries after the close of the Cold War. The author focuses mainly on Anna Chapman and her colleagues. Many of the most effective “spooks” succeed by their very blandness and ability to blend into a diverse society like the United States, writes Lucas. He looks at the uneven success of Western spying in the East and closes with a fascinating behind-bars interview with an Estonian official who was informing for the KGB.
An urgent call for the West to shake off complacency and protect itself from being duped.