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Russian spies unmasked in embarrassing blow for Vladimir Putin - from The Telegraph - 28.03.22

Ukraine releases list of identities of more than 600 alleged FSB agents, some of whom could possibly be operating in Britain article by James Rothwell - for the Telegraph 28 March 2022

The exposure of the agents is the latest blow for the FSB, after Vladimir Putin reportedly placed some senior figures at the spy agency under house arrest.

Ukraine has released a list of what it claims are the identities of more than 600 Russian spies, including one who appears to fancy himself as James Bond, in a bid to embarrass Moscow.

The list of 620 agents working for Russia’s FSB security agency, who are meant to stay in the shadows, exposes their passports, phone numbers and even their drinking habits.

One alleged FSB agent, according to the list, has a Skype address that includes the phrase “jamesbond007” as well as the characters “DB9”, referring to Bond’s iconic Aston Martin.

Another agent is said to have a taste for “premium cars”, while a third is a heavy drinker who “systematically violates traffic regulations”.

The leak may lead to smirks in Western intelligence agencies and comparisons to Johnny English, the hapless spy played on film by Rowan Atkinson.

But Ukrainian officials also accused the spies of being involved in “criminal” activity in Europe, without giving details. It raises the prospect that some of the people identified on the list are working as spies in Britain.

The entries for each spy contained their date and place of birth, passport number, their “registration address” and in some cases car licence plate numbers and details on their finances. A handful of entries include the spy’s home address.

The Telegraph has not independently verified the list, which if confirmed would prove to be a major embarrassment for Moscow that may compromise many of its spies.

Ukrainian officials did not disclose how they had obtained the list. But Aric Toler, a researcher for the investigative website Bellingcat, said some of the data appeared to be based on previous leaks of sensitive Russian intelligence.

Last week, Russia reportedly launched a hunt for “Western spies” in the FSB, implying that Moscow fears the agency has been infiltrated.

Earlier in March, an FSB whistleblower claimed its spies had been kept in the dark about the plans for an invasion of Ukraine, going on to describe the war as a “total failure” akin to the collapse of Nazi Germany.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, has reportedly placed some senior FSB figures under house arrest. The move appeared to be a reprisal for detailed plans of Russia’s invasion being obtained and disclosed by Western intelligence agencies.

The FSB, which is a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, works mainly as a domestic security agency but has been linked to assassinations abroad.

Earlier on Monday, Bellingcat revealed that Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition politician, was shadowed by an agent linked to an FSB hit squad before he was murdered in 2015.

The investigation, which worked alongside the BBC and The Insider, found that Mr Nemtsov was followed by the agent on at least 13 journeys by train and plane before his death.

Last year, a former head of MI6 warned that only “10 per cent” of Russia’s operations in Europe have been uncovered.

“We see the extent of Russian aggressive intelligence activities across Europe,” said Sir John Sawers, who led MI6 from 2009 to 2014.

“We probably only know 10 per cent of what they’re doing. There will be a great deal that intelligence services do that we’re simply not aware of,” he added.

Mr Putin is said to be increasingly paranoid about members of his inner circle, as well as Russian intelligence operatives, trying to betray him.

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, disappeared from public view for a two-week period beginning on March 11, fuelling speculation that he had been jailed or otherwise removed from his position.

He then resurfaced during a Zoom meeting of Russia’s security council. A Russian official explained his absence by saying that “the defence minister has a lot on his mind right now.”

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The exposure of the agents is the latest blow for the FSB, after Vladimir Putin reportedly placed some senior figures at the spy agency under house arrest

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