Friday, March 6, 2009

Britain Teeming with Russian Spies

Via DailyMail UK -

Russia is still running spying operations in Britain at Cold War levels, an official intelligence report revealed yesterday.

This is pushing MI5's counter-espionage abilities to the limit, according to its director-general Jonathan Evans.

He said the service is having to 'devote significant amounts of equipment, money and staff' to track agents run from Moscow.

'Since the end of the Cold War we have seen no decrease in the numbers of undeclared Russian intelligence officers in the UK conducting covert action in this country,' he is quoted as saying in the annual report of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

'The Service is still expending resource to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia and others to spy on us.'

According to the ISC report published yesterday, MI5 has 3,382 staff and the number is expected to rise to more than 4,000 by 2011. It dedicates 3.5 per cent of its resources to counter-espionage work, mainly against Russia and China.

The report notes: 'The murder of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006 led to a serious deterioration in diplomatic and political relations between Russia and the UK.

'In response to the Litvinenko murder, the Security Service increased its resource dedicated to Russia.'

The level of heightened surveillance now being undertaken is censored in the published version of the report for security reasons.

However, Mr Evans did warn the committee that MI5 was hamstrung by a lack of resources.

Last night Russian expert Professor Richard Sakwa, of the University of Kent, warned that 'both sides were hurtling towards a new Cold War'.

He said: 'It is appalling that 20 years after the end of the Cold War we are still in a position of utter mutual distrust, and this spying is a sign of it.

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