Day 3 of a British-Russian row over spying ended inconclusively yesterday as the two sides appeared to be negotiating a compromise that would avoid a rupture in relations. (See Monitor, May 7 & 8) In Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) continued to play "good cop, bad cop." A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that no country could tolerate its citizens being recruited by a foreign power, but nevertheless called for a reasoned resolution to the dispute. An FSB spokesman, in contrast, continued to bluster for the expulsion of at least some of the British diplomats allegedly implicated in the spying, although he conceded that they need not all leave the country. The FSB was supported by a Russian foreign intelligence service spokesman who said that "when a spy is caught red-handed, he should take his punishment."
Meanwhile, British ambassador Sir Andrew Wood returned for more talks to the Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday, but details were again not made public. In Britain, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, backing off from his confrontational rhetoric of the previous day, welcomed "the fact that the Russian government discussed its concerns with us." British defense secretary Michael Portillo said that Britain was still in the dark as to Moscow’s intentions. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, Interfax, May 8)
"Third Force" Falls Apart.