As a Russian you recruit

In many ways their work is similar to work in sales: first, they have to find the right approach, and then try to bargain. The meeting was so intense that after them I felt complete exhaustion

“In counterintelligence everything is based on psychology and the ego”.

This is the idea I tried to impress my supervisors in the FBI. The goal was to play on the ego of the “object” to do what you need. Manipulation and resistance to manipulation of the Russians is what I did for those four years when he was a double agent for the FBI who worked against the Russian military intelligence.

Oleg Kulikov, my object, believed to me, was an experienced employee of the Russian military intelligence, assigned to the Russian mission at the UN in new York. Oleg was smart, but very impulsive and arrogant man — it is these traits we use to manipulate and control relationships in the “game”, in which the Russian played with incredible passion.

Consent of Donald trump Jr. to meet with Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, who promised incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, prior to the request for Jared Kushner to communicate on a “non-channel” — obviously the Russian side very effectively manipulate and build relationships with people who were interested.

Recruiting good people is the main mission of foreign intelligence officers who conduct their work in the United States. Many of them have diplomatic immunity and occupy official positions in embassies, consulates, and even in the UN. In many ways their work is similar to work in sales: first, they have to find the right approach, and then try to bargain. It is a kind of lottery, in which intelligence officers must find potential candidates for recruitment, which may be useful for intelligence agencies and to find out who is ready to execute instructions. Of several hundred candidates whom intelligence agencies such as the Russian GRU, seen as potential targets of the recruitment, only a few make it to the final phase and become intelligence agents, and the rest just disappear, and the Russians just cut off any contact with them.

Russian slowly and carefully build relationships with potential recruitment. In my experience, Russians refuse to do business by phone or email, always making a choice in favor of personal meetings. This process of building relationships always involves three major phases that involve minimizing the risks for Russians and maximize their capabilities in the process of evaluating a potential agent.

The first step is approaching when the Russians decide how to make contact with the object. In most cases, it implies open and nepredosuditelnaya contacts. The basis of such contacts may be a shared hobby, this could be meeting at a conference or even a perfectly legitimate business proposal (like the Russian did in my case). Phase approximation is very complex, and this step requires a “hook” that would explain the interest of the intelligence officer in his facility. Then the question arises whether a foreign scout to get out of “the friend zone”. This transitional moment — in each individual case is different but usually it is assumed that the object must perform some active action (for example, call the Russian Ambassador and ask for a meeting) that demonstrate his interest in moving the relationship to the next level.

(In my case this transitional moment came when I asked Oleg if we can meet somewhere on neutral territory, not in my office, which has become for Russians a clear indication of my readiness to continue to build relationships.)

The next phase may be the longest shortest or Vice versa. At this stage, scout finds out, Yes, it’s “useful” for recruitment. One desire of the candidate is not enough: this person should have the opportunity to bring specific benefits, to be verifiable and (most importantly) not to seek to become a double agent controlled by us intelligence. The key point at this stage is to assess what causes a person to spy: pushing whether it is lust for money, pride or both at once? To clarify this, the intelligence agents several times to meet my object, trying to find his words and behavior for signs of cheating or willingness to cooperate. Each question is formulated carefully and each answer is thoroughly analyzed. Although these meetings are held the intelligence agents, there is no doubt that the final decision on recruitment is taken in the “center”. However, the rating of the scout, working with the object, is of key importance, as it holds meetings with the object. It is the intelligence agent might notice that the subject is nervous or trying not to look in his eyes. The significance of such estimates of scouts is so great that they often embellish or even lie openly, talking about the possibilities or answers are its object (as may have been alleged intercepted conversations in which Ambassador Kislyak described the conversation with Jeff Sissom(Jeff Sessions)).

No one of his meeting with Oleg I can not think of a relaxing or pleasant. These meetings consisted of intense questioning, which seemed to me an intellectual duel. I also very quickly realized that you can not lie, because Oleg very quickly determined that I was lying. Instead, I refused to answer certain questions, resorted to ostentatious outrage to distract his attention, and once I even accused him that he is an FBI agent and demanded that he showed his ID when he asked me to sign the check. These meetings with Oleg was so intense that after them I feel completely exhausted.

If the object passes this check, begins the final phase — when the risks for both sides are the highest and the object becomes the current agent. At this stage, the agent starts to get clear guidance. In addition, the agent can explain how he needs to contact and make appointments with the supervisor and maintain a relationship with Russia. In some cases, the intelligence officer who was involved in the recruitment, replaced by another officer, who becomes the curator of the newly created object. At this point relationships go to a new level, and the agent is no longer any doubt that he does and for whom it does.

It’s a long process (in my case Russian has spent two years checking my candidacy), and only a few reach the stage where they talk about what Russia wants from them. You need to have certain qualifications in order to find potential agents, to build a relationship with them and at the same time to avoid publicity. When Oleg was explaining to me how to dispose of cash, which he gave me to bypass the Bank accounts, I realized how comfortable the Russians are conducting the recruitment in the United States. While Oleg said, and my voice recorder was recording his words, I realized that this experience pushed him to arrogance, then to neglect and finally to failure.

I suspect that this sequence is again repeated.