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The KGB-trained services also on occasion would deliberately break into the hotel room or residence of visiting dignitaries. In some cases, these incidents escalated and U.S. diplomats found their pets killed.

These kinds of tactics largely quieted down after the Cold War, but a spike in such incidents at the end of the 1990s prompted the Clinton administration to form a special bilateral committee to look into them. Moscow’s representative at the time was Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer who would later become president of the Russian Federation.

The spike in these incidents, described by one U.S. intelligence official as “discreet acts of intimidation,” has been raised discreetly by members of Congress with the Obama administration since 2009.

But the issue became public last month after The Times published a series of stories about the bombing attempt in Georgia.

After The Times published an interview with a Georgian interior ministry official laying out evidence that Mr. Borisov was behind the bombing attempt, five senators led by Republicans Jon Kyl of Arizona and Mark Kirk of Illinois asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to provide a briefing on the incident.

In response to that query, the Obama administration released an assessment from the National Intelligence Council, the analytic arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

That report, four U.S. officials said, concluded that two bombs were placed outside a parking lot that abuts the U.S. Embassy compound. One bomb exploded outside the parking lot, another unexploded bomb was tossed over the parking lot wall.

The CIA concluded that Mr. Borisov was acting on orders from Russian military intelligence headquarters, according to these officials. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research assessed that Mr. Borisov was acting as a rogue agent, these officials said.

Jamie Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative who also served on the National Security Council staff in 2008 and 2009, said the incidents of intimidation of U.S. officials were evidence that the “reset” policy had failed.

“These types of Russian activities directed against U.S. officials, combined with Russian policies pursued by Moscow against U.S. allies, show the concept of a reset in relations with Russia is a joke,” Mr. Fly said.

Internal Russian politics

Mr. Obama was far more optimistic last week in an interview with Russia’s official ITAR-Tass news agency.

“Well, first of all, I think it’s important for us to look back over the last two years and see the enormous progress we’ve made. I started talking about reset when I was still a candidate for president, and immediately reached out to President Medvedev as soon as I was elected. And we have been, I think, extraordinarily successful partners in moving towards reset,” he said.

An administration official who defended Mr. Obama’s reset policy stressed that the political leadership of Russia was sincere in wanting to improve ties with the United States.

“There are most certainly some in the Russian government - nationalists, hard-liners, KGB folks, etc. - who don’t like the reset and are doing whatever they can to derail it,” this official said.

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