Spy scandal: Medvedev says that Russia will not retaliate.

Congratulating his American counterpart on the Independence Day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made it plain that Moscow was going to offer no symmetric response to the currently unfolding spy scandal. Medvedev’s message was quite composed and benevolent, full of reminiscences of the recent summit in Washington. The reminiscences were never marred by the fact that arrests in the United States had begun barely hours after his departure.

The Kremlin appears to believe that the U.S. president has nothing to do with the scandal under way. In fact, Moscow even questions statement of the White House spokesman who plainly said that Obama had known of the arrests in advance, certainly since before his meeting with the visiting Russian leader. “We will probably never know the truth. Of the two options – to acknowledge that Obama knew and that he did not know – they’ve chosen the former. Saying that he did not know anything would have been shown Obama in bad light,” said a source in the Kremlin.

Both presidents would rather soft-pedal the scandal that exposed the least savory aspect of the performance of intelligence services of both countries. According to Medvedev, the decisions made at the level of presidents were of vastly more importance. “I’m convinced that constructive and neighborly relations between Russia and the United States promote genuine interests of our countries, security and stability throughout the world. This commonalty of interests renders obsolete all efforts to play down importance of what we have accomplished already or significance of our partnership.”

Hearings in the United States are under way already.

Ex-general of the KGB Oleg Kalugin called the latest developments fiasco of the Russian intelligence service and an indication of the dramatic decline of its professionalism.

“Whenever a report has to be concocted for superiors, what counts is the ability to report existence of a spy ring. It has always been so. Anyway, it does not even matter information of what quality this spy ring is capable of developing. What matters is the ability to say that yes, there is an intelligence-gathering network in place, and this network is working already,” said Kalugin. The defector suggested that the Russian state would take care of its exposed agents. “At least, that’s what was always done in my time.”

“As for protection of Russian citizens and their interests abroad, it is the duty of our diplomatic missions in every given country,” said Andrei Nesterenko of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He added that Moscow would like to get more information from the Americans.

Another source who insisted on anonymity said that what had happened had as little to do with genuine intelligence-gathering as Jan Fleming’s James Bond did. “Planting eleven agents at once… that’s something unthinkable. Agents are like diamonds, wholesale rules do not apply here. The whole operation was probably engineered and launched in the first place as a hoax only intended to salt away funds. The Americans do not even charge these people with espionage. Money-laundering is so far the worst offense, right? It figures… And now imagine that like in every other sector of Russian life and enterprise, there is a set system of commissions at every phase. It fits, you know. Even the exposure is understandable. Someone decided that he was slighted, that he was not getting his piece of the pie, and thus fingered the whole ring.” The source said that neither did the FBI come out of it smelling of roses. “These guys have wasted years and countless millions. It is because of these distractions that they missed 9/11, you know. They do not care. They exposed a major spy ring, they are proud now, and they expect rewards and promotions.”