The Atlantic

Paul Whelan Isn’t a Spy, and Putin Knows It

The arrest is a setup, perhaps for a swap with Maria Butina.
Source: Whelan family via Reuters

To say that the Cold War shaped Russian President Vladimir Putin and the 21st-century Kremlin is an understatement. Putin has consistently used the skills and contacts he developed during his KGB career to cement control internally and battle foes abroad. Putin describes himself as a proud “Chekist,” referring to Lenin’s bloody, repressive, and brutal secret police, and celebrates the organization’s birthday every December; he once commented, “There is no such thing as a former KGB man.” It is therefore fair to look at modern-day Russia as the world’s first intelligence-state, and to interpret many of Putin’s actions as those of a superpowered spy chief.

A case in point is

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic17 min readPolitics
The Last Kennedy
A number of Democratic power brokers wanted Representative Joe Kennedy to run for president. He consulted with family members and said no.
The Atlantic7 min read
A Supreme Court Case That Will Affect Every Aspect of National Life
The outcome in New York v. Department of Commerce, which the Supreme Court will hear on April 23, will affect virtually every aspect of our national life, from the right to vote to the balance of power in Congress and the Electoral College to the sco
The Atlantic10 min readPolitics
China Isn’t Cheating on Trade
Democrats and Republicans echo Trump’s anti-Beijing rhetoric, but escalating tensions could leave Americans far worse off.