The number of Russian spies operating in the United States “is still too large,” despite the country’s best efforts to find and expel them, the FBI warned.
“The traditional Russian counterintelligence threat continues to loom large,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday at an event at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.
“The footprint of Russian intelligence – and by this I mean intelligence officers – is still too large in the United States and it is something that we constantly encounter and try to block, prevent and disrupt in every way we can. “.
Some of the spies are “clips” or individuals who act as intermediaries between agents, Wray said, citing a Mexican national who was arrested by US authorities in 2020 and accused of helping with Russian intelligence efforts.
“If anyone needs a reminder of what Russia’s interests are, they can simply look at what is happening in Ukraine,” he added.
“And so we never lose sight of the fact that these are the same people who are involved in unconscionable activities and aggression in Ukraine.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that the problem of Russian espionage in the United States persists. Rod Lamkey – CNP/MEGA
Intelligence agencies have been dealing with Russian spies in the United States since the days of the Cold War.
As tensions have risen in recent years, more and more spies have been discovered in the United States.
In 2018, the United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats whom authorities identified as intelligence agents and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, as part of its response to Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent to poison a former spy. Russian who lived in the United Kingdom. .
Last year, a Dutch intelligence agency also identified a Russian intelligence officer who had studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a graduate program favored by American military personnel, diplomats and future spies, according to CNN.
In April, US authorities also issued an indictment against four US citizens and three Russians accused of carrying out a “multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States” on behalf of the Kremlin.
And just last month, U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Chinese and Russian spies are targeting private American space companies, attempting to steal critical technologies and preparing cyberattacks aimed at degrading the capabilities of American satellites, the New York Times reported.
As tensions between the United States and Russia have risen in recent years, more and more accused Russian spies, such as Maria Butina, have been detained.REUTERS
Experts believe Russia is using more spies embedded in Western nations. AFP via Getty Images
“Foreign intelligence entities recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the United States economy and national security, including the increasing dependence of critical infrastructure on space assets,” warned the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
“They view US innovation and space-related assets as potential threats, as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise.”
The NCSC advised space technology companies to track anomalous incidents on their computer networks to look for potential breaches, develop protocols to identify potential foreign actors within their businesses, vet potential investors, and prioritize the protection of critical intellectual properties.
Bellingcat investigative journalist Christo Grozev said he believes Russia’s spy chiefs have changed the way they work since the invasion of Ukraine began.
“They lost a lot of the capability they had with spies under diplomatic cover,” he told The Guardian. “The short-term agents they had from Unit 29155 are now considered burned out as well.”
Western intelligence agencies believe the unit was a top-secret GRU group tasked with sabotage and assassination attempts across Europe.
Bellingcat investigative journalist Christo Grozev said Russia has lost many of its spies under diplomatic cover. Yury Zaitsev, the U.S.-based director of a cultural exchange program run by the Russian government, was investigated in 2013 for spying on behalf of Russia. AP
Maria Butina attends a Russian government meeting in Moscow.EPA
Its existence was discovered when officials and journalists realized that the GRU (Russia’s main intelligence agency) was providing 29,155 agents with passports issued at the same passport office, each with closely related serial numbers.
As a result, the agents were rendered useless, and Grozev said Russia “has had to activate its sleepers and when you do that, you run the risk of much more information being revealed.”
In his comments Thursday, Wray said that “in recent years, the United States has made significant and positive progress in reducing the size of the footprint of Russian intelligence officers in the United States, in effect expelling them.”
But Grozev warned that recent revelations by agents in Western countries could be just the beginning, saying he was already on the trail of others.
“I feel like I’m down a rabbit hole, discovering more and more things in places where I didn’t think I’d find anything,” he told The Guardian.
Last month, US intelligence agencies warned that the Kremlin could be spying on US space companies to obtain sensitive information.
Meanwhile, New York City has seen an increase in the number of Russians moving to the Big Apple as they try to flee the ongoing war with Ukraine.
The number of Russians with cases in the New York state Immigration Court, which rules on asylum/deportation cases, has skyrocketed 158% over the past year, data obtained by The Post reveals.
There were 3,098 cases involving Russian citizens in New York immigration court during the federal fiscal year from October 31, 2021 to September 30, 2022.
As of Sunday, the number of asylum cases involving Russian citizens jumped to 8,002 for the current fiscal year running from October 1, 2022 to September 30 of this year.