Moscow yesterday angrily rejected allegations by Washington that it had cracked an undercover Russian spy ring but U.S. officials said the Cold War-style cloak and dagger saga would not undermine a thaw in relations.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said police who arrested 10 suspected spies Sunday were “out of control.”
“I hope that all the positive gains that have been achieved in our relationship will not be damaged by the recent event,” Putin told visiting ex-U.S. President Bill Clinton in Moscow.
An 11th suspect was arrested in Cyprus yesterday and freed on bail, police said. The Russian Foreign Ministry said those arrested in the U.S. were Russians and the charges are baseless.
In Washington, administration officials said the case would not set back President Barack Obama’s drive to “reset” ties with Russia, one of the signature diplomatic initiatives of his administration.
“I think we have made a new start to working together on things like in the United Nations dealing with North Korea and Iran,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “I do not think that this will affect those relations.”
The suspects were accused of gathering information ranging from data on high-penetration nuclear warhead research programs to background on CIA job applicants.