Deep cover Russian operatives are rooted in our society, security officials believe, and up to a dozen highly trained illegals may have been here in the United Kingdom for years in one or two-person cells.
Now the Government is poised to ramp up M15’s abilities to stop undeclared spies by making their presence in the United Kingdom criminal, and it follows the report into Kremlin meddling in the Brexit referendum, which called for a crackdown on spy activity in the United Kingdom.
Included in a review of the Official Secrets Act will be a kind of foreign intelligence officer registration, which spies will have to sign on entering the United Kingdom or chance being prosecuted and imprisoned.
It’s not currently a crime to live in the United Kingdom as an undercover officer.
The Government are further invoking the Magnitsky Act, named after murdered Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, which can allow the freezing of Russian assets.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that this Government was bringing forward a law, not only a new Espionage Act, not only new laws to protect against theft of our intellectual property but also a Magnitsky Act immediately to counter people in Russia or elsewhere who infringe human rights.
Sources say the undeclared illegals are instructed in Soviet-style spy schools outside Moscow.
They could be used for pre-mission surveillance and one may even have helped prepare the novichok assault on Sergei Skripal.
Relating to the Russian spy service, a former military intelligence officer stated, it was remotely likely the GRU were helped in the Salisbury assault by an illegal.
Other information undercover officers could give might include data on the coastal territory or local troop movements.
Crucially they would also know what to look for in critical infrastructure such as dams, water systems and power networks or installations to be targeted for sabotage.
Russia’s most well-known illegal was Anna Chapman, who remained undercover for numerous years in Britain and the US before being rumbled by the FBI in 2010.
Security Minister James Brokenshire stated that they were clear-eyed in relation to the threat that Russia poses, that’s why they had taken the actions that they had and that there could be no normalisation of their bilateral relationship until Russia stopped the destabilising activity that endangers the United Kingdom and our allies, and that threatens the safety of our citizens.
Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds told the Commons that British security agencies require help stopping Russia spies, and he said they’ve not got strategic assistance, the legislative means or the resources needed to protect our interests.
And the Prime Minister hit back at allegations the Kremlin might have helped influence the Brexit referendum, and he said that the people of this country didn’t choose to leave the EU because of Russian meddling, they voted because they want to take back control of our money, our trade policy and our laws.
And while the largely non-dom and foreign-owned right-wing media has you all chirping on about reds under the bed, there’s practically no scrutiny about the far greater menace undermining our democracy, and how the prosperous buy direct access to political leadership, influencing decisions in their favour, and until we challenge that issue head-on, our own democracy will remain in real and present danger.
But this is what happens when you have a country that’s free to enter for all.