Sergei Skripal was a little fish, but had a big enemy

The lives of the former spy and Putin, two former intelligence agents from the Soviet-era, intersected at key points
Sergei V. Skripal was a little fish.
This is how British officials now describe Mr. Skripal, a Russian intelligence officer they recruited as a spy in the mid-1990s. When the Russians caught Mr. Skripal, they saw him that way, too, granting him a reduced sentence. So did the Americans: the intelligence chief who orchestrated his release to the West in 2010 had never heard of him when he was included in a spy swap with Moscow.
But Mr. Skripal was significant in the eyes of one man — Vladimir Putin, an intelligence officer of the same age and training. The two men had dedicated their lives to an intelligence war between the Soviet Union and the West. When that war was suspended, both struggled to adapt. One rose, and one fell. While Mr. Skripal was trying to reinvent himself, Mr. Putin and his allies, former intelligence officers, were gathering together the strands of the old Soviet system. Gaining power, Mr. Putin began settling scores, reserving special hatred for those who had betrayed the intelligence tribe when it was most vulnerable. It is unclear if Mr. Putin played a role in the poisoning of Mr. Skripal, who survived and has gone into hiding. But dozens of interviews conducted in Britain, Russia, Spain, Estonia, the United States and the Czech Republic, as well as a review of Russian court documents, show how their lives intersected at key moments.
Scores of intelligence agents turned to the West at that time, as defectors or informants, and Mr. Putin cannot speak of them without disgust. Treachery, he told one interviewer, is the one sin he is incapable of forgiving. One man, however, was stewing. “A person gives over his whole life for his homeland and then some b*****d comes along and betrays such people,” Mr. Putin, practically snarling, said when asked to comment about the swap on live television. Even if they did not die, he added, they would suffer. “They will have to hide their whole lives,” Mr. Putin said. “With no ability to speak with other people, with their loved ones.” Then he stiffened his back, squared his shoulders and spoke straight to the camera.NY Times
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/sergei-skripal-was-a-little-fish-but-had-a-big-enemy/article24920688.ece

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