FBI documents: how to recruit Russian spies

Washington — a scene is a familiar element of many Hollywood spy thrillers: the Russian agents living and working undercover among ordinary American citizens, but their main mission is to stealing state secrets.

In reality, the probability that your neighbor, coworker, or mailman, is a Russian agent working in America under a false name, is extremely small. However, this does not mean that the art of espionage, is now experiencing a period of decline. This is especially true of the USA and Russia, which was their rival in the cold war.

Against the backdrop of allegations and reasoning of Russian interference in presidential elections in 2016, among officials of intelligence agencies are still widespread idea that foreign spies are using traditional tactics and personally recruiting agents who give them confidential information.

There is no doubt that the emergence of technology, cyber-espionage and information warfare has changed the rules of the spy game after the end of the cold war. However, search methods, recruiting and manipulating sources for the most part remained the same.

The strategy of recruiting spies

This tactic is in the spirit of “Spy 101” almost a step by step itemized in the materials prepared by the FBI for court cases 2015, which featured the man identified as “Man # 1”. Although the government did not disclose the person’s name, in an interview with CNN Paige Carter (Carter Page) admitted that it was his, according to the materials of the case, tried to recruit three agents of the Russian intelligence.

The FBI did not show Paige, who later became an adviser to the campaign headquarters trump the charges of espionage in favor of Russia. He repeatedly declared that didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t know what he had to communicate with Russian agents.

“In accordance with the politically motivated disclosure standards adopted under the Obama administration, my personality and provided informed assistance with the Federal government in 2015 United States against Buryakov, Sporysheva and Similar was presented with so that it caused damage to my reputation,” said Paige in an interview with CNN.

He also said that a warrant for listening to his talk, given by a Court in cases of foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA), “unfounded” and rejected suggestions that he could be foreign agent.

However, the FBI documents detailed the strategy, which was guided by Russian agents who chose him as his victim. According to a former employee of counterintelligence, the methods that have been used as part of the attempt to recruit Paige, no different from the methods used by the KGB during the cold war.

Step 1: establishment of relations

The initial phase of the recruitment process is built on the same principles, which build positive interaction between people such as friendship.

The first step is to determine the suitability of a person for the role of a potential agent or source. This is done on the basis of evaluation of his personal qualities, profession and occupation. Then, according to a former official of counterintelligence, the man tied communication.

In the case of Paige, as stated in the documents of the FBI, Russian agents met him at the energy Symposium in 2013, and then established contact with him via e-mail.

Their communication was built on the basis of the classical principles of recruitment, said the former official, adding that foreign spies are trying to establish normal relations with its objects, asking them about their family and past and trying to determine whether the objects to share information — even one that is in the public domain.

In the spy world agents often try to find weak spots, so if necessary to put pressure on the object and force it to do what was expected of him: objects can threaten or offer a generous reward.

In the case of 2015, says that Russian spy from time to time arranged meetings with Paige, as well as frequent visits Paige in Moscow, who was businesslike.

“He writes me in Russian to practice the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I, said two Russian spy, referring to Paige, as evidenced by transcripts of their telephone conversations collected in the FBI. He obviously wants to earn a lot of money.”

Step 2: any object?

In the end, the documents show the FBI, Russian agents concluded that the combination of professional ambitions page, its relations with Russia and readiness to go on contact makes it a suitable object which can be turned into a source of intelligence.

Then the discussion centered on the methods by which it was possible to force the page to share with them certain information.

Although the willingness to share information in the public domain, there is nothing illegal, by itself, the readiness of the facility to transmit information, according to a former official of counterintelligence, signaled his willingness to cooperate and openness for a relationship.

“You promise a favor for a favor, — according to a transcript of a conversation between two Russian agents caught in the hands of the FBI. — Receive documents and send it *** (obscene language)”.

FBI investigators came to the conclusion that the dialogue reflected “the method of recruitment which involves fraud, a promise of certain services, and then breaking ties with the intelligence source at the time when the necessary information populae in the hands of agents of the SVR” — the foreign intelligence Service of Russia.


According to a former intelligence official, the success of the recruitment source depends on the final stage where the spy decides to draw the object of cooperation, inviting him to pass some sensitive information.

At this stage, the spy of foreign intelligence can take advantage of them collected information about the object and either to appeal to his personal aspirations and desires, or offer money, or to stoop to blackmail to force the object to operate.

In 2015, as stated in the materials of the FBI, the interaction of the page with the Russians, who were under investigation, and is not moved to the stage where Paige could be considered successfully recruited by the intelligence source.

Three Russians in respect of which the matter was investigated and found guilty that they conducted espionage activities in the United States without notifying the attorney General.

Two of them left the United States before the commencement of the trials, and they both enjoyed diplomatic immunity because he worked for the Russian government. The third was arrested by U.S. authorities and was deported to Moscow earlier in April, previously pleaded guilty to crimes committed in 2015.

Paige has repeatedly stated that he did not know that these Russians were spies, said in an interview with CNN that he’s “sharing unimportant information and publicly available research materials”, as well as information from lectures which he read at that time in new York University.

“Let’s see what will show the transcription FISA,” said Paige in an interview on Thursday, April 13.