In a bold move against Russia’s Deep-Cover Spies, Western intelligence agencies, led by MI5, have exposed and arrested several undercover Russian agents. Among those detained were Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, and Katrin Ivanova, who had been living inconspicuously in London’s suburbs. Their exposure marks a shift in Western strategy, which has become increasingly transparent in its counter-intelligence efforts since the onset of the Ukraine war.

The crackdown has dealt significant blows to Russia’s intelligence operations. Over 705 diplomats, suspected of espionage, have been expelled from Russian embassies globally since 2022, a figure nearly double that of the preceding two decades. This purge has severely impacted the Russian spy network’s operations in Europe, with countries like Bulgaria and Poland expelling large numbers of Russian diplomats.

The West’s aggressive stance has also targeted Russia’s “illegals”deep-cover agents operating under false identities. In recent months, EU nations have arrested or exposed at least six such agents believed to be affiliated with Russia’s military intelligence, GRU. These arrests, coupled with the diplomatic expulsions, have forced Russia’s intelligence apparatus to adopt riskier espionage methods and prioritize “special operations”, ranging from assassinations to sabotage.

Experts, however, caution that these measures might be too late. Philip Ingram, a former British Army intelligence officer, suggests that Russia has already embedded a significant number of operatives across Europe. The recent exposures, while significant, might only be the “tip of the iceberg”.

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