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Russian spies arrested by the United States this past summer were not dangerous to the U.S., Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during an interview with U.S. talk show host Larry King.
The Russia-U.S. spy scandal broke out in late June when 10 people were arrested in the United States. The agents, who worked under cover, were freed in a swap deal between Russia and the U.S.
"I have already said and can repeat: their [the agents'] activity did not cause any damage to the Unites States' interests," Putin said.
"As you know, they belong to a special service - the illegal intelligence [nonofficial cover] service; it has its own tasks, which, as a rule, become relevant during crises, say, when diplomatic relations are severed," the Russian premier told King during a satellite interview aired on CNN on Wednesday.
"Thank God, there is no such state of affairs between Russia and the United States today, and I hope there will never be," he said.
"These people definitely deserve respect," Putin said.
"I think no one doubts that all countries, including the United States, carry out intelligence activities," he said.
"By the way, the methods of our special services are better than the methods employed by the U.S. special services. Thank God, neither these people, nor our other intelligence or special service officers have been seen organizing secret prisons, abducting people or torturing them," the prime minister said.
MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti)
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Russia has surged ahead on the foreign policy stage, but this is not enough to remain a great power. The tough-minded policies and masterful diplomacy of Russia’s leadership have maximized the country’s position in the world, and are now the main source of its international influence and prestige. Russia’s foreign policy in the next decade depends entirely on what happens at home.