The Russians seem to be thinking that the arrests won't be good for U.S.-Russian relations, but that instead of Obama directing the timing of the arrests it may be other operators within the U.S. government. FT reports:
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, echoed the prevailing consensus when he said ... that the timing of the arrests “was very artfully chosen”, implying that it was designed to do maximum damage to bilateral relations.
Vladimir Kolesnikov, deputy chairman of the security committee in the Russian state Duma, or lower house of parliament, said that the scandal was “provocation” inspired by “structures that live with the old baggage”, in other words, hard liners. The scandal, he said was “a blow aimed at [US President Barack] Obama.”
“I have no doubts that the our reaction will be adequate,” he said. “It is no secret that their special services continue to work here,” adding that Russia could potentially prosecute American “illegals” working in Russia.
Nikolai Kovalev, the ex-director of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, told Interfax news agency “someone is trying to put a virus into the reset programme”.