An ex-KGB agent says every American that Putin can imprison is ‘an asset that you can trade’ as Moscow detains a US ballerina


  • Russia’s imprisoning of US citizens as bargaining chips is “nothing new,” an ex-KGB agent said.

  • Jack Barsky told Fox that this gives Moscow an “asset that you can trade.”

  • Ksenia Karelina, a US-Russian ballerina, is the latest American citizen to be detained by Russia.

Every US citizen detained by Russia gives the Kremlin an “asset that you can trade,” ex-KGB agent Jack Barsky said.

Barsky, a former sleeper agent for Soviet intelligence in the 1970s and 1980s, told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Monday that the practice of arresting Americans for this purpose is “nothing new.”

“That happened during Stalin’s time, all the way through today. Because, you know, an American in prison is an asset that you can trade,” said Barsky on MacCallum’s “The Story.

Barsky, who worked with the FBI and NSA after being discovered, was commenting on the detaining of Kseniya Karelina, a US-Russian ballerina who was arrested on February 21.

Karelina, 33, is accused of donating to a Ukrainian organization and was stopped by Russian authorities while traveling from Los Angeles to Yekaterinburg, the Russian Federal Service Bureau said.

She was visiting her grandmother, and her employer, Ciel Spa Beverly Hills, said she donated $51.80.

“What really makes me shake my head, the brutality with which they proceed against this young lady, and then they go out in public and say it’s $50,” said Barsky.

Recent Russian state TV footage showed a blindfolded and handcuffed Karelina being escorted inside a detention facility and being held behind bars.

Karelina is among at least three other US citizens known to be detained in Russia.

Two of them, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and marine veteran Paul Whelan, are classified as wrongfully detained by the US State Department. The third is teacher Robert Woodland Romanov, who was arrested in January.

“There’s nothing that’s being done that isn’t controlled by Putin, being done in this realm,” Barsky said, adding that he believes the Russian leader intends to “scare more people” with the imprisonments.

“Scare everybody, the world as well as the Russians, his own citizens,” Barsky said.

In December 2022, WNBA star Britney Griner was freed from a Russian prison in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.”

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