Moscow appears to be strengthening its spy agency in European countries, which have suffered the biggest failure since the Cold War. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Western intelligence services have weakened Russia's spy network, and this has become a de facto failure for Russia, from which the Kremlin is still recovering. It is known that during the last year of the Russian war against Ukraine, more than 400 Russian intelligence officers were identified and expelled to Russia from EU and NATO countries. According to open sources, more than 600 employees of Russian embassies were expelled, and more than 400 of them turned out to be spies.
During Russia's war against Ukraine, the Russian intelligence network suffered perhaps the greatest losses and failures in modern history. For example, an entire spy network working for Moscow and collecting information on critical infrastructure was dismantled in Poland. The Finnish Security Service also reported the exposure and termination of a group of Russian agents that was engaged in espionage and did so using unconventional methods. So, now the Kremlin tries to advance its espionage campaign and fill Europe with its agents.
It is known that the Russians have begun to "improve" the search for spy agents and involve activists of international student youth movements, trade unions, leaders of various religious communities and charitable foundations. Moscow is seeking to restore the former power of its military intelligence, which has suffered losses and failures. The Kremlin is actively replenishing its spy networks, which it intends to use primarily to gather information about Europe's critical infrastructure and the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine. More than a month ago, a group of people was detained in Poland in the Województwo podkarpackie, whose task was to identify, monitor and document vehicles with Western weapons being delivered to Ukraine.
The flow of migrants from Russia that has flooded Europe, especially after Putin announced open conditional "partial" mobilisation, has also become an excellent cover and means for the infiltration of Russian covert agents. Experts believe that at least 10% of Russians who have left Russia over the past year are likely to be working for Russian intelligence services. Moscow is not above using any means to strengthen its espionage influence in European countries and to stop Europe's support for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian aggressor.
Under the guise of charity, the Kremlin uses charitable aid funds to collect personal data of Ukrainian citizens who have become refugees due to the Russian war. The Russians pay special attention to activists, volunteers, and military personnel undergoing treatment and rehabilitation in European countries. But not everything is as clean and secretive as the Russian special services would like it to be. In May last year, a scandal broke out in Portugal involving a Russian couple with dual citizenship, Igor Khashin and his wife Yulia, who collected and passed on to Russian intelligence services personal data of Ukrainian refugees and their families who remained in Ukraine, using the activities of the Refugee Support Centre in Setubal and the Eastern European Migrants' Association "Unity".
Russia also openly funds charitable organisations in the EU and NATO countries to allegedly help Ukrainian refugees. This is far from being about charity and selflessness. Through charitable foundations, Russian special services are trying to obtain information about the locations, routes and timing of military aid to Ukraine, and continue to collect information about Ukrainian refugees and their families. Among such charitable structures with a tarnished reputation are, in particular, the Unity of Ukraine Charitable Foundation (USA), the Ukrainian Association A.C.T.U.A. Leleka (Spain), the Vesna School for Ukrainian refugee children (Belgium), the Ukrainian Writing and Culture Foundation " Mova Kalinova" (Slovakia), and the Vychyvanka Association (France).
What is the purpose of this? In order to have a pretext to manipulate events in Europe and demand the cessation of assistance to Ukraine. The Kremlin's increased espionage activity in Europe is also explained by Putin's long-standing desire to weaken the EU and NATO. In this way, the Kremlin leader seeks to undermine Europe's geopolitical structure. It should not be forgotten that the current Russian President Putin is a former KGB officer and such methods of work are familiar to him. Russia's behaviour in Europe has always borne the hallmarks of destabilisation, destruction, and espionage. There are echoes of the Soviet era and the glory of the USSR, which modern Russia is dreaming of restoring. This is the essence of its diplomacy: to oppose the common good, to always be in opposition to international standards, to intimidate, threaten with force and openly go to war, counting on impunity. But not this time, because their crimes will certainly be punished.
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