The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns - prompting consternation at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters and sowing doubts among some United States counterintelligence officials about the informant's trustworthiness.
The White House has strongly pushed back against a report that the US removed one its highest-level spies from inside the Russian government in 2017, partially over concerns that "President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy".
It cited unnamed Russian law enforcement officials as saying Moscow had initially opened an investigation into his suspected murder in Montenegro before concluding he was alive and living overseas. The decision to pull the covert source "poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved", the news outlet added, citing an unnamed US official.
The Kommersant newspaper said he had gone on holiday with his family to Montenegro in 2017 and disappeared, before a man with the same name and a woman with the same name as Mr Smolenkov's wife purchased a house in the USA state of Virginia, near Washington DC. He did not say why.
The source was considered the highest level source for the USA inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that Smolenkov didn't have a senior role in Putin's administration and had been fired by a secret decree several years ago.
But now that the story had become public it was highly likely the US government would have to make serious efforts to protect the defector, the source, who did not dispute the mole was Oleg Smolenkov, said.
Smolenkov did not have direct access to Putin, Peskov added, declining with a laugh to confirm whether he had been a US agent or not.
Mr Smolenkov did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin, Mr Preskov added, declining to confirm whether he had been a United States agent or not.
Media speculation "pulp fiction"It is true that Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but he was sacked several years ago".
"I can't confirm that ..."
"I don't know whether he was an agent or not".
All this speculation in the U.S. media about who urgently extracted who and who saved who from who, that's all, as you understand, more of a pulp fiction kind of genre.
The Kremlin spokesman played down the reports that the man had been extracted.
The informant was "instrumental" to the CIA's conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered and orchestrated Russia's campaign to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, and had access to "high-level" Kremlin decision-making, The New York Times reported Monday. This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be used discussing classified information. "I have never seen him, I have never met him and I have neither kept track of his career nor his movements". The New York Times covered the same story later in the day, but disputed a core element of CNN's report by saying the extraction was necessitated due to "media scrutiny of the agency's sources", not Trump.
"No one shared any state or even non-state secrets with anyone during that conversation", Mr. Lavrov said.