Russia gives US spies a headache

US intelligence has put Russia on the list of states able to challenge American interests due its military force, espionage, cyber operations and other capabilities.

The document presented on Tuesday by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair puts Russia and China in the same category as what Washington used to call “Axis of Evil” countries – Iran and North Korea.

It says that, although Russia is a partner in securing fissile material and combating nuclear terrorism, it “may continue to seek avenues for reasserting power in ways that complicate US interests.”

Among threats, which the intelligence community is to repel, are: violent extremists; international crime lords; competition for resources; and pandemic diseases.

The document lists the priorities for 16 US intelligence agencies over the next four years. Those include combating terrorists and WMD proliferation, integrating intelligence efforts and enhancing cyber security.

Interestingly, unlike the previous national intelligence strategy issued in 2005, the new paper doesn’t single out promoting democracy as a goal.

Political analyst Aleksandr Pikaev says this was a mistake by the Obama administration and will complicate Russian-US cooperation.

“It’s difficult to understand why the Bush Administration, which was universally accused of unilateralism, issued a much more balanced and politically correct intelligence report than this first report of the Obama administration,” he noted.

He went on to say that the “Obama administration claims its desire is to go into multilateralism and pragmatism.”

According to Pikaev, the decision to put Russia and China into same category with North Korea and Iran is not very pragmatic. The US, said Pikaev, needs “cooperation from China in order to stabilize the economy”, and “support from Russia to stabilize Afghanistan or to have non-proliferation and disarmament.”

“This is difficult to understand. I believe this is a mistake of the Obama administration,” he added.

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