The chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence service believes that Russia has lost its ability to spy in Europe “by half,” following the expulsion of more than 400 Russian intelligence officers from cities across Europe and the arrest of several deep-cover spies posing as civilians.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, European countries have expelled “north of 400 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover” across the bloc, Richard Moore, the head of MI6, the UK's foreign intelligence service, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto at the Aspen Security Forum.
“And we reckon, in the UK, that has probably reduced their ability to do their business to spy for Russia in Europe by half,” Moore said.
A number of “illegals,” or Russian spies operating under deep cover and masquerading as ordinary civilians, have also been exposed and arrested in recent months, he added.
Asked whether the war in Ukraine has made Russia a “target-rich environment” for the UK and its allies to recruit potential assets, Moore would only say that “it is our hope” that Russians in the intelligence and diplomatic services will “reflect on what they are witnessing in Ukraine” and decide to “strike back against the system” as many did during the Prague Spring in 1968.
“Our door is always open,” he said.