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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Putin’s Swashbuckling Spies Are Hurting Him

A string of bungled operations, including the Skripal poisoning, is attracting too much attention. 

Rule No. 1 for would-be assassins: Don’t get your picture taken.

Rule No. 1 for would-be assassins: Don’t get your picture taken.

Source: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s public accusation that the Russian military intelligence service, known as GRU, carried out the failed assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal is the latest in a series of black eyes for the service.

Russian President Vladimir Putin should be as concerned as Josef Stalin was in the 1930s about the service’s excessive appetite for risk. Another potential cause for worry is the competition among Russian intelligence services, which is disproportionately hurting the GRU.