- More by Michael Al-Said
President Putin said foreign intelligence agencies were trying to access Russian technology and data.
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RUSSIA’s President Vladimir Putin has accused foreign intelligence services of beefing up activities in Russia, announcing that hundreds of spies were caught in 2018.
It’s become something of a Russian tradition.
Each year, in late winter or early spring, Vladimir Putin visits Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, for a board meeting.
And in a speech there, he announces how many foreign agents Russia managed to catch the previous year.
Judging by the latest figures, espionage is on the up.
President Putin pointed out that four years ago 52 staff members and 290 agents of foreign intelligence agencies had been uncovered in those 12 months.
By comparison and without going into details, he said “129 staff members and 465 agents of foreign special services were foiled”.
Russian spies have themselves been accused of several plots.
Dutch, Czech and Swedish intelligence all say they have foiled attacks.
Russia has also been accused by the West of trying to interfere in elections, notably US President Trump is accused my many in America of colluding with Russian intelligence agents to infiltrate the US elections.
Without naming Russia, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, warned on Tuesday that “anti-European forces” might try to target EU Parliament elections in May 2019 following the planned Brexit departure of the UK from the EU.
In his speech to officers of Russia’s FSB security service, Mr Putin said their work had to be efficient, especially in protecting data on the development of weapons systems.
“We see foreign intelligence agencies trying to increase their activity towards Russia, seeking by all means to access political, economic, scientific and technological information,” he said.
Vladimir Putin may claim that “foreign intelligence agencies are trying to boost their activity in Russia” but don’t forget: Russia spies on the West too. We have no way of verifying the Russian figures or the western inferences about Russia.
The allegations of spying have all come against a backdrop of a worsening climate between Russia and the US.
For the first time since the Cold War and nuclear arms crisis the US and then Russia have suspended participation in a Cold War missile treaty. With Trump vowing to produce a record number of record sized nuclear weapons to aim at Russia.
At the weekend deputy defence minister Valery Gerasimov accused the US and its allies of using the “protest potential of a fifth column” along with precision weapons as part of a goal of destabilising countries.
Last month, Mr Putin said Russia would start developing a new type of medium-range missiles and said they would be aimed at Western capitals, if the West deployed missiles in Europe.
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M.AlSaid@alsahawat.com | Journalist