Dear Nation Puzzle Fans: This collector’s edition puzzle is brought to you by the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the classic John le Carré novel of the same name. The film opened on December 9, and is now playing in select cities. Le Carré himself is a member of the Nation family, having contributed pieces to the magazine over the past decade. This puzzle is designed by the same team that designs The Nation’s weekly puzzle. We’ll return to the usual format next week. We hope you enjoy!
Tinker with each clue answer, rearranging the letters to produce a new word for the grid.
  2A General protecting vehicle with Russian leader and author (2,5)
  6A Painter of Soviet mountain region shrouded in fog (8)
19A Areas’ parties captivating chief (7)
  2D Was able to locate Ukrainian capital amid frigid weather (5)
15D Rabbit fur in your ear (4)
Improve the fit by removing one letter from each answer to produce a new word for the grid.
11A Tops slid off (4)
13A Agitate prison (4)
16A A visor, slightly adjusted for a redeemer (6)
  4D Flowers from Dublin, e.g., trimmed and fleshy at the center (6)
12D Wasted weeks: initial bit of data is distorted (6)
War is a constant presence for each new word that you enter in the grid.
  7A Noticed a tool (3)
17A Coming from the East, the German Communist (3)
  1D On the sound track, drop a level (4)
  8D After the beginning, give an angry speech (4)
10D Spots sad arrangement (3)
Observe the answer to each clue, but be sure to leave it undisturbed when entering it in the grid.
 9A Originally, the U.S.A. covered Lithuania’s principal city (5)
18A  Unfortunately, a friend includes you in a text, revealing a lot (8)
  3D Cancels Times subscription at first, concealing error (6)
  5D Twin sources for English spymaster are undercover (4)
14D One that hurts an American from the Midwest (5)
ACROSS 1 2 defs., 3 JUD[e] + G + MENTAL
10 2 defs. 11 GRAND + P(R)IX 12 OCEAN + IANS (canoe anag.) 13 “Wight” 14 anag. 16 anag. 17 DENIM + ED (mined rev.) 19 2 defs. 22 S(TOP)S, 23 QUASI + MODO (doom anag.) 25 B(O + CAR)ATON
26 HEAVE[n] 27 anag.

DOWN 1 BELL + OW 2 & 28 anag. 4 UNGUARD + ED (guru and anag.) 5 hidden 6 END + OWER
7 TERMI(NA)TE 8 L(AX) + NESS 9 FR(AN)CE (Cerf anag.) 15 “handsome” + CAB 16 DESI AR + NAZ[i] (raised rev.) 17 DUST(B)IN, 18 MIST + R + AL 20 “nays” 21 CO-GENT 23 Q + A + TAR
24 OM + AHA