Russian spying at cold war levels, say experts

A passenger reads the Daily Telegraph newspaper, featuring an interview with the ex-husband of accused Russian spy Anna Chapman.

From James Blitz, the Financial Times:  The widespread mockery of Russian spies after this week’s arrests in the US has angered well-placed British intelligence experts, who believe it would be foolish to underestimate the espionage efforts of the heirs of the KGB.

The global media has ridiculed the antics of the alleged Russian agents arrested by the FBI and portrayed them as suburban bunglers and, in the case of Anna Chapman, a sex symbol. But the intelligence experts insist that Moscow’s illegal spying networks pose as much of a threat to western interests as they did at the height of the cold war. …

One expert points out that “deep sleeper” operations of the kind uncovered in the US have had huge success in recent years.

The most notable was the treachery committed by an Estonian diplomat serving at Nato headquarters in Brussels, whose controller and paymaster was a Russian agent posing as a Spanish national. The information acquired by the Russians did incalculable damage to Nato, say experts.

Another expert suggests that Russia’s spy chiefs today deploy between 30 and 35 intelligence officers at the country’s official missions in London, operating an espionage effort of the same intensity as the one conducted by the KGB at the end of the cold war. …

Up to 50 per cent of Russian officials operating in European capitals are thought to be intelligence officers, according to Financial Times sources.  (photo: Reuters)

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