The full-scale invasion of Ukraine has another unexpected side effect for Russia: it weakens the espionage network in Europe the most since the end of the Cold War. As The Washington Post recently wrote, during the past year, the American and European security services conducted a large-scale campaign to identify spies, so Russia was surprised by it.
Last March, Ukrainian intelligence revealed the identities of 620 Russian spies in European countries. The intelligence website published a list of agents who are employees of the Russian Federal Security Service, including their names, ID, places of work, residence, and cars.
At the same time, Poland decided to expel 45 Russian diplomats (a half of the embassy staff) for involvement in espionage. As the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated, these people “pretended to be diplomats”.
In April, 40 Russian diplomats were expelled from Germany and 35 from France for the same reason. The MFA of France stated that the activities of these employees of diplomatic departments “contrary to the security interests of the country.”
In general, according to the MFA of Ukraine, as of April, within a few months of the full-scale war, 423 Russian diplomats who were probably covert intelligence officers were expelled from EU countries:
- Austria – 4;
- Bulgaria – 10;
- Belgium – 21;
- Estonia – 17;
- Spain – 25;
- Italy – 30;
- Luxembourg – 1;
- North Macedonia – 5;
- Portugal – 10;
- Romania – 10;
- Slovakia – 38;
- Slovenia – 33;
- Germany – 40;
- Czech Republic – 1;
- Montenegro – 4;
According to the assessment of the British Intelligence Service MI-6, at the end of July, after the invasion of Ukraine, about 400 Russian spies operating under diplomatic cover (about half of all) were expelled from Europe.
In September, German newspaper Der Spiegel published an investigation into Russian spy activities. According to journalists, the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation supervises the work of about 3,000 spies abroad, and the Main Intelligence Directorate has another thousand. Most agents act as diplomats.
More than 600 Russian agents and spies have been exposed in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Security Service reported.