The 9 Russian Words That Explain KremlinGate
It’s International Talk Like a Chekist Day—here’s a quick primer on kombinatsiya, konspiratsiya and more
As the Trump administration’s Russia problem shows no sign of going away, protesting presidential tweets notwithstanding, it’s time to think about it properly. Understanding what the Kremlin’s up to helps to see the big picture. This means learning a bit of spy lingo. Espionage, like everything else, has its own culture—including special verbiage—which varies from country to country.
Russia’s espionage culture is unique and in key ways markedly different from how Western countries approach the spy-game. It’s a product of the Soviet secret police, that brutal and cunning force, and it’s no accident that Vladimir Putin’s spies proudly call themselves Chekists today to commemorate them—just as they did in the days of the KGB. “There are no ‘former’ Chekists,” as the KGB veteran Putin has stated, and this attitude permeates his Kremlin.
The threat to our democracy posed by Moscow’s spy-games won’t recede on its own. As Rick Ledgett, NSA’s straight-talking deputy director, stated last week, “This is a challenge to the foundations of our democracy.” He went on: “How do we counter that?” adding, “What do we do as a nation to make it stop?”