British spies are best, says Putin aide

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British, Israeli and Russian secret agents are the best in the business, Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin's security adviser, told the Arguments and Facts newspaper.

Mr Ivanov, who like his master worked for the KGB, explained the success of Israel's agents by saying they could rely for information on Jewish communities around the world. The CIA he condemned for its arrogance: "The Americans have too much money. This makes them think that everything ... can be bought and you don't have to use your head."

Britain received a nod as a worthy former Cold War enemy and now, presumably, potential partner. "British counter-intelligence has an excellent school and traditions. They prepare their agents very well." This view was endorsed by Leonid Kolosov, another ex-spy, whosaid Soviet trainees were taught to be especially careful of the "cunning British".