Russian officials arrested American journalist Evan Gershkovich earlier this week on suspicion that he was engaged in “espionage in the service of the US administration.” Hundreds of alleged Russian agents have been jailed or expelled from many countries in the weeks and months before the arrest.
Reports say that Gershkovich has been looking into a tank factory in Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, and the Wagner Group, called Putin’s army. A Russian journalist had informed him that the Russian secret agency might follow him.
An ex-senior CIA official based in Russia, John Sipher, told NBC News that Putin and his regime could be using Gershkovich’s detention as leverage for releasing suspected Russian spies abroad, or they could be trying to show the Russian people that foreigners are trying to undermine the country.
Sipher said it’s impossible to put all the pieces together and determine exactly what this is, but it’s obviously a weapon used by the Kremlin.
He said it might be a play to Putin’s people to reinforce the idea that the West is planning to harm Russia, and he might be seeking a negotiating tool to secure concessions from the West.
The Department of Justice published papers last week detailing the extraordinary narrative of an alleged Russian spy. The DOJ is filing an espionage case against Sergey Cherkasov for his covert work in the United States after his detention in Brazil.
Russia is notorious for its global network of spies.
More than 400 spies, according to a British intelligence officer, were kicked out of Europe that year.
Polish officials said earlier in March that they had detained nine persons they believed were part of a Russian intelligence ring plotting to sabotage military shipments destined for Ukraine. A similar situation occurred in Australia in February when it was revealed by a local newspaper that authorities had evicted a huge Russian espionage network whose members had been masquerading as diplomats. Countries throughout Scandinavia have also significantly cracked down on persons suspected of Russian espionage.
According to a recent analysis from a British think group, Russia’s security and intelligence agencies have been more successful than the country’s armed forces in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.