Quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Dmitri Trenin has some useful explanations extracted below regarding the embarrassing incident of arrested spies in the United States. The question I keep thinking of was raised by Yevgenia Albats – why were these alleged deep cover spies, which represent such a costly endeavour, doing such easy and open work like befriending academic professors? The intelligence they were allegedly gathering appears from a distance to be virtually useless. Trenin points out that Russia may have some trouble shutting down these outdated programs.
“You have a certain contingent in both countries of those who are still stuck in the Cold War, but in Russia they’re not so influential with the people driving the policy,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Russian leaders, he added, “will not willingly renounce the major investment they have made toward a better U.S.-Russia relationship.” (…)
“You have a lot of inertia in the security services on both sides,” Mr. Trenin said. “Like nuclear weapons built during the Cold War, they have no justifiable mission today. Yet they’re still there, and they’re being maintained because it’s hard to shut them down.”