On November 16, The Director of the British Security Services MI5, responsible for domestic intelligence work, applauded a milestone for the world with the expulsion of more than 400 Russian spies from foreign territories.
Nevertheless, a former agent of MI6, which is responsible for intelligence work outside the UK, said this week in an interview for The Sunthat the UK is infiltrated with hundreds of Russian agents and has lost track of how many there are.
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Strategic blow against Moscow
Previously this month, Ken McCallum, the Director General of the MI5 Security Service, delivered his annual update on the threat to Britain.
In his address, he cited a victory against Vladimir Putin this year, with the expulsion of more than 600 Russian citizens from Europe, out of which 400 were believed to be spies.
According to Reuters, McCallum called this act a ‘strategic blow’ to Putin.
This has struck the most significant strategic blow against the Russian Intelligence Services in recent European history, And together with coordinated waves of sanctions, the scale has taken (Russian President) Putin by surprise.
Contrary to the achievements noted by MI5 Chief McCallum, Julian Richards, a former MI6 agent believes there could be hundreds of Russian spies inside the UK, The Sun reports.
The comments by Richards were prompted by recent news from Sweden where a seemingly normal couple was arrested by elite police forces due to suspicion on a decade-long espionage service for Russia.
Richards has said that the intelligence services in the UK are unaware of the true numbers of Russian spies operating inside the country. He told the tabloid:
‘Either they’re very, very good at it, in which case there could be a lot of them out there that we just don’t know about.’
Richards has explained how these spies blend in as ordinary citizens, known as ‘illegals’ or ‘sleeper’ agents, and apply for jobs in critical industries, and then work up their ladder into positions of ‘access’.
According to Richards, the UK has always been a target for Russia not only because it is a notable intelligence player itself, but also because it is ‘a sort of back door to American intelligence’.
‘They know that we’re potentially a very useful connection into the American intelligence system.’
Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, has said Vladimir Putin is obsessed with ‘illegals’ and their historical success in the past, including what is known as the ‘Cambridge Five’.
This was a group of British nationals who from the 30s to at least the early 50s managed to climb to high-influence UK government positions and spy for the KGB, the intelligence service of the Soviet Union.
‘I think Putin’s fascinated with ‘illegals’ and it goes all the way back to the old days when they were so effective like the Cambridge Five - Rudolf Abel and people like that - they’re historical figures and I think Putin would like to recreate that.‘
-Reuters: ‘UK MI5 chief says expulsion of Russian spies has delivered significant blow’