Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia, attempts to diffuse spy fallout


US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (R) leaves the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow, May 15, 2013, after being summoned to explain the presence of an alleged CIA agent working undercover at the embassy who was detained this week. The ministry had summoned McFaul for an explanation after slamming Washington for what it described as 'provocative acts in the spirit of the Cold War.'



Michael McFaul, the American ambassador to Russia, was in Moscow Wednesday meeting with officials in an attempt to diffuse the fallout over an alleged US spy. 

Ryan Fogle, identified as the third secretary of the political section of Washington's embassy in Moscow, was arrested by Russian officials Monday night. Footage of his arrest, in which he is wearing a blond wig and baseball cap, was made public on state-run television Tuesday. 

Russia's federal security service briefly detained Fogle, who was found with special technical equipment, disguises, written instructions and a large sum of money. They later handed him over to US officials, saying he was trying to recruit a Russian national to spy for the US.  

The incident has put relations between the two countries on edge and garnered references to the Cold War.  

"While our two presidents have reaffirmed their willingness to expand bilateral cooperation, including between intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism, such provocative Cold War-style actions do not contribute to building mutual trust," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

McFaul was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry's building Wednesday morning. He left half an hour later without saying a word to journalists waiting outside the compound. 

He did confirm, however, that Fogle had to leave Russia in the "shortest possible time," Al Jazeera reported.

However, Russia and the US hinted Wednesday that the spy snafu would not hinder their joint work on Syria and other issues, as Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a joint appearance at the biennial meeting of the Arctic Council in Sweden. 

“I have nothing to add with respect to the situation regarding an embassy official in Moscow,” Kerry said.

"I am grateful to my friend Sergey Lavrov, the minister of Russia, for a very productive meeting yesterday in which we did the large business of our countries, which was, first of all, the challenge of Syria," he added. 

The last spy-related tensions between the two nations were in 2010, when Anna Chapman and 10 other Russian spies were arrested in the US. They ended up being swapped for four Russians convicted of spying for the States, according to Al Jazeera. 

More from GlobalPost: Chatter: Did Russia catch an American spy?