In a rare address on Wednesday, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, Richard Moore, made an open plea to disaffected Russians, encouraging them to spy for the UK. Speaking in Prague, Moore urged those “wrestling with their conscience” to take a stand against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and offered them the chance to share secrets with MI6.
Moore emphasized that there are many Russians who silently condemn the actions of their armed forces, including the pulverization of Ukrainian cities, expulsion of innocent families from their homes, and kidnapping of thousands of children. He expressed that these Russians know in their hearts that Putin’s rationale for attacking a fellow Slavic nation is deceptive.
In response to Moore’s plea, a spokesperson from the Russian foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, issued a cautionary statement. She warned disaffected citizens tempted to spy for western intelligence agencies, mentioning the case of the Skripals, who were poisoned in England in 2018. Zakharova implied that trusting and cooperating with western intelligence services could lead to dire consequences, drawing attention to the lack of evidence linking Russia to the Skripal poisoning.
Regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Moore remained optimistic about Ukraine’s ability to prevail against the Russian invasion. However, Zakharova mocked Moore’s confidence, asserting that Russia would not create such a fuss if they believed they had only a small chance of regaining lost ground.
Putin’s war in Ukraine continues to escalate, with Russian forces launching aerial assaults on cities like Odesa. Additionally, diplomatic tensions have heightened due to Russia terminating a crucial grain export deal with Ukraine. Questions also linger after an armed uprising by the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which was eventually resolved through a pardon for the group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Moore revealed that Prigozhin is alive and at liberty following the mutiny against the Kremlin. He suggested that Putin’s response to the mutiny was not forceful but rather involved a “humiliating deal” to end it. This incident appears to have put Putin under pressure, indicating internal vulnerabilities within Russia.
Finally, Moore issued a warning to African states with ties to the Wagner Group, stating that if Prigozhin could betray Putin, he could also betray them. The Wagner mercenaries have been involved in various countries, earning a reputation for their brutal actions and involvement in human rights violations.