US steps up spying on Russia: Report

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US intelligence services and the military are scrambling to expand spy satellite coverage and communications-interception efforts across Russia amid heightened tensions over the Ukrainian crisis.

The plan for increased surveillance comes as US military satellites spied on Russian troops near Crimea last month but failed to pick up any telltale communications, the Wall Street Journal reports.

US steps up spying on Russia Report

“Even though there was a warning, we didn’t have the information to be able to say exactly what was going to happen,” a senior US official said.

The dispute over Ukraine’s political crisis and reintegration of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea with Russia has sent the US-Russian relations into a steep, downward spiral.

US officials hope the “surge” in intelligence-gathering assets will improve tracking of the Russian military and tip off Washington to any plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, US spy chiefs are worried that Russian leaders might be able to cloak their next move by shielding their communications from the US spy services.

Some US military and intelligence officials say Russian leaders might have used knowledge about America’s surveillance techniques to change communication methods about their plans in Crimea.

Representative Mike Rogers, who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that US counterintelligence officials believe that former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is “under the influence of Russian intelligence services.”

Snowden shocked the world last year when he disclosed secret documents on the scope and methods of the US government’s spying practices at home and abroad.

Since the end of the Cold War, US spy satellites and other intelligence assets have been focused more on the Middle East and Asia and less on Russia.

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