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 Russian spies in EU infographic
Graphic shows recent increase in Russian agents based in Europe.


Russia expands its EU spy network

By Duncan Mil

March 12, 2024 - Rus­sia has aggress­ively boosted both the size and influence of its GRU mil­it­ary intel­li­gence, FSB Fed­eral Secur­ity Ser­vice, and SVR for­eign intel­li­gence agency since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

With more than 400 of Russia’s intelligence agents kicked out of embassies in European capitals in the last 18 months, the Kremlin has resorted to other methods to keep their spy networks alive.

Russia’s spy networks in Europe fit into three main categories: Declared agents working at foreign embassies posing as diplomats; undeclared agents, such as trade delegations; and illegals working undercover, passing themselves off as from another country other than Russia.

“The FSB, for example, has an external department, and its role has been expanding, so it is in charge of operations in Ukraine, where it now has a huge presence,” explains Ryhor Nizhnikau, a Russia expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

On February 12, France, Poland and Germany accused the GRU of spreading pro-Russian propaganda over the Ukraine invasion through Portal Kombat, a net­work of 193 fake news web­sites. Two weeks before that, the European par­lia­ment opened a probe into whether a Latvian MEP might be an agent for the FSB.

However, last week­end’s leaked phone con­ver­sa­tion between Ger­man Air Force chief Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz and officers dis­cussing send­ing Taurus cruise mis­siles to Ukraine was Moscow’s most explos­ive pro­pa­ganda coup so far this year.

PUBLISHED: 11/03/2024; STORY: Graphic News