Spy Swap

The Humiliation of Russia's Intelligence Services

  • Subject: Espionage & Intelligence | Summer 2024 Sale
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    16 b/w illustrations
  • Published:
    July 15, 2021
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9.25 × 6.125 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    18 oz
Hardcover $44.95
Member Price $35.96 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


On Monday, 4 March 2019, Sergei Skripal and his thirty-three year-old daughter Yulia collapsed in the center of Salisbury in Wiltshire. Both were suffering the effects of A-234, a third-generation Russian-manufactured military grade Novichok nerve agent.

Codenamed FORTHWITH, Sergei was betrayed in December 2001. Arrested in 2004, he was convicted of high treason in Russia, but was subsequently included in a prisoner swap in July 2010 and brought to the UK. The journey to the attempt on his life had begun.

The Vienna spy swap was the culmination of a CIA plan to free a specific individual, Gennadi Vasilenko, who had been the Agency’s key mole inside the KGB since March 1979. To acquire the necessary leverage, the FBI swooped on a large network in the United States, ending a surveillance operation, codenamed GHOST STORIES, that lasted ten years. Anxious to avoid further embarrassment over the arrests, Vladimir Putin personally authorized an exchange, unaware of Vasilenko’s true status. It was only after the transaction had been completed, and two further Russian spies were exfiltrated from Moscow, that the Kremlin learned of Vasilenko’s value, and the scale of the deception. For the very first time, a Russian government had been persuaded to release four traitors. The humiliation was complete. As Spy Swap reveals, Putin’s retribution would manifest itself in a quiet Wiltshire market town.


About the Author

Editorial Reviews

Spy Swap is a comprehensively and meticulously researched study of the history of both U.S. and Soviet/Russian intelligence activities from the Cold War to the present.” —The Cipher Brief
“Despite differences in cultures and values, intelligence services share a common concern with trying to free agents when things go wrong. Espionage is a risky business that can end in arrest, long prison terms, or (very rarely today) even execution. Agents need reassurance that they have hope of rescue if caught. Abandoning agents to their fate is bad for the spy trade. Repatriating them is good for an intelligence service’s brand. Even when it’s an exercise in futility, the effort must be made. Russia has repeatedly tried trade for turncoats Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, although to no avail. Spy Swap: The Humiliation of Russia’s Intelligence Services is a portmanteau and a legacy of the Cold War. Spy Swap is a reminder that East–West espionage did not end with the Cold War and that bartering spies for spies probably has a future.” —Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence