Jack Devine’s latest book Spymaster’s Prism begins with a very fitting quote from Abdur Rahman Khan who is considered the founder of modern Afghanistan. 

“My Last Words to you my son and successor… Never Trust the Russians”

Devine’s latest book makes no secret that he, and more importantly the Russian intelligence community under President Putin, believes that the Cold War never ended. And moreover, when it comes to the U.S., the Russians have taken the next step in gathering intelligence, which is to act on it. 

First, they interfered with the 2016 presidential elections. Furthermore, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the presidential campaign headquarters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton were all hacked.

The Russians then hacked into several U.S. government and infrastructure websites in a flagrant violation of the unwritten “Moscow Rules” that both countries had followed for decades. 

The “Moscow Rules” put limits on operational activity that would upend the balance of power, potentially lead us closer to open war, and test the tenets of mutually assured destruction. Under this understanding, Russian and U.S. intelligence services had eschewed conducting assassinations, terrorism, or strong-arm tactics directed against each other’s officers. They also forebore from engaging in counterfeiting operations or direct interference in each other’s internal affairs, including elections.

But the Russians have essentially tossed the old “Moscow Rules” in the trash, as President Putin, still smarting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, is trying to push Russian nationalism back to the forefront of international politics. And so the Cold War didn’t end… for Russia. Instead, it has taken it to the next level by aggressively spreading disinformation campaigns via fake social media troll factories and attacking U.S. infrastructure using Cyberwarfare.