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Russia: Intelligence Gathering Still Vital To U.S. Security

Washington, 6 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior U.S. intelligence official says that despite the end of the Cold War, the continuing transformation of Russia still poses a "critical challenge" to U.S. national security interests.

Russia has made "remarkable progress" in building entirely new economic and political institutions, says acting U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet. However, he says there are still causes for concern.

In remarks to the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee yesterday, Tenet said Russia's political institutions are "young, fragile, and untested." He said the Russian military suffers from economic hardship and "flagging morale," and Tenet says Russian foreign policy "has placed a high priority on retaining its influence in the newly independent states and minimizing the influence of outside powers."

The importance of Russia and the situation there means it is essential for the United States to have accurate and timely intelligence for policy-makers, Tenet says.

The Congress is about to start work on the budget for the U.S. government for the next financial year. President Bill Clinton will send the budget request to Congress tomorrow. The budget for the Central Intelligence Agency is kept secret, but is believed to be in excess of $30 billion.