Spy Swap Was Always the Plan

The events leading up to Friday’s Cold War-style spy trade on the airport tarmac in Vienna may have seemed like the product of a frenzied bout of negotiations and last-minute discussion. But for the U.S., it was all part of the plan. The spy swap had reportedly been on the table for the U.S. government for over a month, even before any arrests were made, as a tactic to leave delicate Russian-American relations unharmed. The idea was first laid out in the same Oval Office meeting that saw President Obama approve the plan to round up the largest ring of Russian sleeper agents since the Cold War. “There was a full discussion about what was going to happen on the day after,” one senior White House official said.