Fears that Putin’s spies are ‘active at all levels of British society’: MI5 spyhunters on alert for Russian agents ready to launch attacks in wake of Ukraine invasion
- It is believed that up to 50 Russian spies could currently be roaming around UK
- MI5 chiefs fear spies may attempt to steal military secrets and target dissenters
- It has been claimed that Putin already has spies placed in all areas of UK society
- It comes after a a Russian man was arrested at Gatwick Airport earlier this week
Fears have arisen that Vladimir Putin’s spies are ‘active at all levels of British society’ – with MI5 spyhunters placed on alert for possible cyber attacks amid the UK’s support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
Up to 50 Russian spies could now be roaming in the UK amid concern that Putin has ordered all sleeper agents to be ready to respond to tasks.
MI5 chiefs fear the spies may attempt to steal British military secrets and target both Russian and Ukrainian dissenters, The Mirror reports.
It has been claimed that Putin already has spies placed in all areas of UK society, including top public schools, the civil service and the House of Commons.
Vladimir Putin talks at the plenary session during the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday
Former intelligence officer Lt Col Philip Ingram (pictured) says it is ‘impossible to accurately assess how many Russian agents there are in the UK’
A senior intelligence source told The Mirror: ‘We have to assume Russia is now active at all levels of British society.
‘They scoop up all forms of intelligence and pass it back to the Kremlin through handlers.
‘This could be anything from what sort of weaponry is being sent to the Ukraine – and how much of it – to the sexual antics of the country’s political and military leaders.’
It comes after a a Russian man was arrested at Gatwick Airport earlier this week as he attempted to leave the country, on suspicion of spying for the Putin regime.
The suspected agent was detained as he attempted to board a flight out of the UK and was taken to Hammersmith police station late last night by Met officers.
His arrest came as the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Met’s SO15 counterterrorism unit and Britain’s domestic counter-intelligence and security organisation, MI5.
‘Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command arrested a man in his 40s at Gatwick airport on Monday. He remains in custody,’ a Met police spokesperson said.
Former intelligence officer Lt Col Philip Ingram said: ‘It is impossible to accurately assess how many Russian agents there are in the UK.
‘Of course there are different types – declared intelligence officers known as part of Russian diplomatic missions, and those operating under cover trying to recruit agents and then sleeper agents in all aspects of society.
‘Given our support for Ukraine, Russian intelligence will be focused heavily on operations inside the UK and could also include recruiting agents inside political establishments, defence and industry.’
Spy chiefs in the UK are on heightened alert for nefarious cyber attacks after it was revealed earlier this month that Russian hackers had attempted to compromise the mobile devices of several Ukrainian and European officials.
Victor Zhora, the deputy head of Ukraine’s State Special Communications Service, said phones being used by the country’s public servants have come under sustained targeting by Russian agents in the months since Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on February 24.
The suspected Russian agent was detained as he attempted to board a flight out of the UK and was taken to Hammersmith police station late last night by Met officers (armed officers are pictured patrolling Gatwick airport)
Victor Zhora, the deputy head of Ukraine’s State Special Communications Service, said phones being used by the country’s public servants have come under sustained targeting by Russian agents in the months since Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on February 24
‘We see a lot of attempts to hack Ukrainian officials’ phones, mainly with the spreading of malware,’ Zhora told journalists at a recent online news conference, but confirmed there was no evidence that Ukrainian devices have been compromised thus far.
The hacking of government leaders’ devices crept up the international agenda following a cascade of revelations last year around the how phones used by presidents, ministers, and other government officials had been targeted or compromised.
The ability to remotely and invisibly hack into such devices using sophisticated spy software – sometimes called a ‘zero click’ hack because it requires no interaction from the victim – is particularly feared.
Zhora said he and his colleagues were aware of the threat of zero-click intrusions but declined to comment on whether they knew of any such attempts against their own devices.