A new report from the Henry Jackson Society think tank – endorsed by the former Director-General of MI6 – makes explosive claims about the scale of Russian espionage in the UK. The report is based upon confidential interviews with high-level dissident, defector, and intelligence sources and sets out both banal and brazen examples of what it says is Vladimir Putin’s ongoing menacing of our streets. As well as chilling anecdotes of open interference in our affairs, the report includes unto-now unpublished assessments of the scale of Russian espionage in the British capital.
Amongst the report’s findings are:
- Russia’s intelligence and security services are as much as 52 times the size of their British equivalents.
- There are up to five times the number of Russian case officers in the UK as there were in 2010. These 200 ‘case officers’ are handling up to 500 agents.
- Out of an estimated population of 150,000 Russian ex-pats living in London, up to half are said to be FSB, GRU, or SVR informants – potentially, some 75,000 assets.
- As many as half of Russian Embassy diplomats are actively engaged in intelligence work, with as many – if not more – said to be working in Russia’s Trade Delegation.
- The UK’s “Warnings Index” – relied upon by Border Control to flag persons of interest, including spies – has proved fatally ineffective at preventing Russian officers from freely entering the country in order to execute hostile operations.
The report calls upon the Government to redouble its efforts in combatting the threat posed by Russia. Amongst other proposals, it recommends that consideration be given to downgrading intelligence material as part of a new approach for greater openness about the scale of the Russia’s activities. The report also suggests that the Government should assess whether to revoke the Parliamentary access of media outlets found to be playing host to Russian spies.
Commenting, the report’s author Dr Andrew Foxall said:
“This report shines a light upon the activities of Russia’s cloistered intelligence agencies in Britain. The threat they pose harks back to a darker age.
Though these agencies have been in the headlines because of the Skripal poisoning, they are not just engaged in assassinations. Instead, they are busily delivering Russia’s full suite of “active measures” as part of a broad and malevolent effort to undermine our society.
For too long, Britain’s security policy has been premised upon the naïve assumption that Russia has given up its Cold-War mind-set. This report shows that Russia’s spycraft is just as audacious as it has ever been.”
“Anyone who is relaxed or complacent about Russian intelligence activity in the United Kingdom should read this report. Not only have we experienced the murder of Litvinenko and the attempted murder of the Skripals on British soil, Britain and the West as a whole face an unrelenting assault from Putin’s bloated intelligence and security agencies. They may have been unable to conceal their incompetence but they are large, well-funded and have sinister intent.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Former Foreign and Defence Secretary and Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee
“Dr Foxall’s report forcefully reminds us that Russian intelligence activity in the West is still large scale and intrusive, and that we need to devote significant resources and expertise ourselves to monitoring and blunting this threat to our national security. As during the Cold War an effective counterintelligence capability remains an essential part of our own intelligence and security community.”
Sir Richard Dearlove
Former Director-General Secret Intelligence Service
“The West needs to wake up to the threat posed by Vladimir Putin and his corrupt and brutal dictatorship. For too long, too many people have been blind to the scale of the Kremlin’s insidious campaign of espionage on our streets. This report exposes in dramatic detail some of the most brazen and banal accounts from an unto-now hidden world. We owe Dr Foxall a great debt and we would do well to heed this report’s warnings.”
Ian Austin MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Dudley North
Read the full report here.