Information intelligence has been a cornerstone of Russian military and defense doctrine for decades. But European countries have expelled more than 400 Russian secret agents since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, the MI6 chief has said.
Richard Moore, who heads the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service and is the only active member of the service to be publicly identified, said efforts across the continent were cutting Russia’s capabilities in half.
He told CNN at the Aspen Security Forum: “Across Europe, about half – at last count, something north of 400 Russian intelligence operatives operating under diplomatic cover have been expelled.”
“We think in the UK it probably halved their ability to do their business, to spy for Russia in Europe.”
He added that a number of “illegals”, or agents posing as civilians, have been arrested and jailed, including one for a decade and a half.
It comes just days after a report emerged that spies suspected of working for Russia’s foreign intelligence service were targeting NATO countries.
Hackers were using Google Drive, Dropbox and other online storage providers to hide, according to cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks.
The accounts snagged victim attempts through phishing emails and targeted a number of NATO bases in May and June 2022.
A Dropbox spokesperson told Sky News: “We can confirm that we have worked with our industry partners and researchers on this issue, and immediately disabled user accounts.”
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“They collect all forms of intelligence and pass it to the Kremlin through handlers.
“It could be anything from the type of weapons sent to Ukraine – and how much – to the sexual antics of the country’s political and military leaders.”
Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, has previously said there are likely to be Russian agents inside the Houses of Parliament.
According to the Mirror, he said it was likely a “handful” of Russian spies were working in London’s corridors of power.
He said: “If the war drags on, I think we’ll see Russia revert to old Cold War-style espionage techniques.”
Former Russian spy Boris Karpichkov told The Sun: “I know four sleepers from the Russian security services.
“There are several parliamentary-sponsored organizations operating in Westminster directly linked to the operations of the Russian security services.”
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: “We have made tremendous progress in recent years in countering the threat posed by the Russian state and in increasing our resilience and that of our allies against malicious Russian activity. “