SpyCast 6.13.23
Ep 590 | 6.13.23

“Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East vs. West” – with Calder Walton

Show Notes


Calder Walton (Website, Twitter) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss the 100-year intelligence war between the United States and Russia. Calder is the author of the new book, SPIES

What You’ll Learn


  • The epic clash of intelligence systems
  • Russia’s assassination program then and now
  • The roots of Putinism 
  • China as “the Soviet Union on steroids”


  • Cold War 2.0
  • Could it have been otherwise?

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Cold War has come to be viewed as a thing of the past. This week’s guest argued it never went away. Tensions between the United States and Russia have come back into the foreground in recent years - especially with the political ascent of Vladimir Putin.

While Russia is not the superpower it once was, the West now faces an even larger threat, China – which Calder Walton calls, “the Soviet Union on steroids.” Calder sat down with Andrew to discuss his new book, SPIES: The Epic Intelligence War Between the East and West. Informed by Calder’s book, they discuss the past century of Russia-US relations and take a closer look at what has changed (or stayed the same) over those past 100 years.


Lake Baikal in southern Siberia is the deepest lake on the planet, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and the oldest freshwater lake in the world. It was here that the “Russian Ten” took a collective vacation after being released by the U.S. The Ten were illegal spies, operating without diplomatic cover, who were caught by the FBI in 2010. They were later transferred back to Russia as part of a prisoner swap between east and west. 

Quotes of the Week

My conclusion, unfortunately, Andrew, is that looking at this large sweep of history that we have, not so much a Putin problem today, but a Russia problem. And the Russia problem has been persistent over a hundred years, which is why it makes me very cautious about speculation … Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Putin and the people he surrounds himself with in the Kremlin are all cut from this very similar cloth as he is. – Calder Walton



*Headline Resource*


*Beginner Resources*



  • Russian Intelligence, K. Riehle (NIU, 2022)
  • Putin’s People, C. Belton (William Collins, 2021)
  • Between Two Fires, J. Yaffa (Duggan Books, 2020)
  • The New Cold War, E. Lucas (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014)




Primary Sources 

Oral Histories

*Wildcard Resource*