Russian authorities are up in arms over the arrest of 11 Russians accused of spying on the U.S. The FBI announced the arrests Monday, “in the spirit of the spy novel intrigues of the Cold War era,” as the Russian Foreign Ministry put it.

Russian officials quoted by The Washington Post suggested that the whole affair is part of a scheme to put thawing Russo-American relations back on ice.

The Russian government has acknowledged that the accused, 10 of whom were arrested in the U.S. with an 11th arrested and released on bail in Cyprus, are Russian.

David Wolstencroft, the creator of the long-running spy genre TV show “Spooks,” is getting a nostalgia kick out of what “appears to have been retro espionage of the highest order,” although, he adds, “there is absolutely nothing amusing about real people going to real prison.” — PZS

Washington Post:

Without saying directly whether the suspects were Russian agents, the Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. Justice Department’s decision “to make a public statement in the spirit of the spy novel intrigues of the Cold War era” and noted that “these kinds of incidents have occurred in the past when our relations were on the rise.”

“Such actions are ungrounded and pursue improper goals,” the ministry said in a statement. “In any case, it is regrettable that all this is happening against the background of the ‘reset’ in Russian-American relations announced by the U.S. administration.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, questioned the timing of the arrests, which occurred just days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Washington and went out for cheeseburgers with Obama to highlight improved ties between the two governments.

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