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Putin Denials Mask Dismay at ‘Laughable’ Spy Shortcomings Abroad

  • State television commentator blasts “incompetent” GRU agents
  • Russia faces renewed sanctions risk over espionage allegations
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir PutinPhotographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Beneath President Vladimir Putin’s angry denials that Russian spies were involved in attempted murder and hacking operations abroad, there’s palpable unease at the catalog of sometimes laughable mishaps by his now-infamous GRU military-intelligence service.

Accusations by the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. that four GRU agents were caught attempting to hack into a United Nations body investigating a deadly nerve-agent attack on a former spy in England may galvanize the West into imposing further sanctions on Russia.