Led by the foreign ministry, officials in Russia have brushed off the latest accusations in traditional style, as "spy mania".
They claim the co-ordinated allegations coming from Britain, the US and the Netherlands reveal a "stage-managed" campaign against Russia.
That's also the line taken by retired Lt Gen Yevgeny Buzhinsky, even with four men caught red-handed in The Hague.
"You say this is evidence. It's not evidence to me," he insists, particularly annoyed by talk of GRU incompetence.
"Russian intelligence was believed to be among the best in the world. Now you want to present a bunch of fools, absolutely incompetent, absolutely stupid, non-professional idiots? It's insulting," Yevgeny Buzhinsky says.
But some of the men just exposed have a considerable presence online for secret agents.
Two are listed as players in an amateur Moscow football league along with their photographs. A team-mate at Radiks said the club once boasted multiple members of the security services.
One of the accused, Artyom Malyshev, sold several items online last year including an old acoustic guitar and a smartphone.
Listed as "wanted" by the FBI this week for hacking, he has also registered on a dating website along with a profile photograph winking at the camera and some sporty action shots.