April 18, 2024

Russians opposed to Ukraine war should be spying for UK, says MI6 boss

The head of MI6 has urged Russians horrified by the war in Ukraine to “get hands on” with his spy service and end the bloodshed.

In his second speech since becoming head of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2020, Richard Moore said Vladimir Putin’s forces were unlikely to regain momentum in Ukraine – and expressed optimism about Kyiv’s expected counter-offensive for long.

Speaking at the British embassy in Prague, the head of MI6 compared the current situation in Ukraine to the Prague Spring of 1968, when the Soviet Union overturned liberal reforms.

“Looking at the venality, introiding and callous incompetence of their leaders – the human factor at its worst – many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas as their predecessors in 1968,” Moore said.

“I invite them to do what others have done over the last 18 months and get in touch with us. Our door is always open … Their secrets will be safe with us and together we will work to end the bloodshed.”

While Mr Putin has tried to keep an iron grip on the war story since Russia’s full-scale invasion last February, with the help of state television, public opinion about the conflict is likely to be swayed by Moscow’s apparent military difficulties and to be mobilized. Backup last September.

Many men of fighting age have fled abroad to escape the draft, and thousands of protesters have been arrested in rare demonstrations across scores of Russian cities since the start of the war even as the state appears to be rapidly cracking down.

“There are many Russians today who are quietly horrified by the sight of their armed forces razing Ukrainian cities, evicting innocent families from their homes and abducting thousands of children,” Mr Moore said.

Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has appealed to discredited Russians to ‘join’ MI6


“They are horrified as their soldiers raid a relative’s land. They know in their hearts that Putin’s case for attacking another Slavic nation is fraudulent, and a miasma of lies and fantasy.”

Appealing to such individuals to work alongside MI6, he said: “We will deal with their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is renowned.”

Despite the Russian state’s best efforts to protect citizens from Moscow’s military failures, awareness of several attacks on Russian soil – including two on Mr Putin’s prized Kerch bridge in Crimea, and the armed dominance of the Wagner mercenary group last month last – after fighting.

The short-lived uprising by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenaries – whose military success in Ukraine has boosted their popularity inside Russia – showed that Mr Putin was “clearly under pressure”, Mr Moore said.

More to come…

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