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Vladimir Putin has sent out an order for Russian spy agencies to intensify their recruitment of “kamikaze” intelligence operatives in Britain, leaked emails suggest. Former members of Britain intelligence have warned that the UK is a “major” target for the Kremlin, which will be taking every step to “get access to people and turn agents in useful places”.
According to The Sun, emails from a Russian intelligence source close to Putin’s administration suggest that Moscow will “intensify undercover work with secret informants” in Britain, including sitting politicians and civil servants.
The leaked email said: “Another direction – to intensify undercover work with secret informants in all spheres of society in Britain, mainly among civil servants and politicians of all ranks – including those who sit in Parliament and members of the Lords.
“The emphasis is on finding scumbags ready to commit self-sacrifice under any pretext. We need ‘kamikaze-torpedoes’ who would agree to participate in sabotage.
“Particular attention must be paid to activists from international student youth movements, trade unions, and leaders of various religious communities.”
This comes after Russian spy Boris Karpichkov told the publication that there are a minimum of four Russian agents currently working for the Kremlin in Westminster.
Those that work in and around parliament, including MPs, have been told that they must remain alert to the possibility of Russian infiltration, as the temperature continues to rise between the West and Moscow amid the war in Ukraine.
Former MI5 intelligence officer, Annie Machon, said that there is “no doubt” that Putin will be employing staff to spy on the UK.
She suggested that, given the invasion of Ukraine and Britain’s forthright response to it, there will be an “urgency” to ramp up the Russian intelligence operation in the UK.
“The threat has been increasing, but once you’re on a vague war footing, of course the intelligence activity is going to ramp up and try and get access to people and turn agents in useful places”, she told The Sun Online.
“People who are targeted will have access to things like NATO, things like the military and the civil service, and of course, politicians,” she said. “Also weapons manufacturers and technologists, things like that.
“If I were the Russians and I were paranoid like Putin and everything is going badly in the war in Ukraine – effectively a very strong proxy war – I would be doing all I can do gather up as much influence and power and information from the perceived Western enemies as I could.
“And Britain has been front and centre in supporting the Ukrainians in this struggle, so Britain would be a natural target.”
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Beyond spying for political and military purposes, Ms Macho also said that Moscow and other wealthy Russians are incentivised to engage in financial spying too.
“So many Russian oligarchs have been sanctioned and booted out,” she said. “There must be a huge amount of bad feeling at the top of the Russian society about the loss of their assets, about the loss of their access, the loss of access to money laundering facilities. So there might be a lot of financial spying going on too.”
Ms Machon, who authored the book Spies Lies and Whistleblowers, warned that we may be seeing the sorts of behaviours from Russia last seen during the Cold War.
She said: “It might be a return to the bad old days of the Cold War when Britain, for example, was investigating hundreds of thousands of British citizens for political subversion. The justification for that was usually that the activist group was receiving money from Moscow in order to get out there and campaign and cause political pain. That would be one aim – just getting people out on the streets making a noise. Recruiting people in those groups would be a blend of money and ideology.”
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