“Putin’s hidden attack on the West”. “Spiegel”: They spy, sabotage and even murder

As “Spiegel“Russian spiescalled “illegal” or “sleepers”are mostly men and women with carefully prepared biographies, who have been living peacefully in the West for years, strongly integrated with local communities. Dozens of them live in Western countries since the Soviet times.

“Illegals” spy, sabotage and even murder

“Illegals” form a network of agents working for Moscow around the world: they spy, sabotage and even murder.

This secret fighters on a massive offensive against the West. Putin’s intelligence services have an influence on lots political, manipulating elections, controlling social channels, organizing protests in the West using disinformation. They infiltrate Western politicians’ computer networks and break into sensitive objects. Their goal is to sow unrest and division – lists Spiegel, stressing that few other world leaders have strengthened the resources of secret service agents as much as Putin, himself a former KGB officer.

“Tens of thousands of people” work for the Russian services

As estimated by “Spiegel”, there are “tens of thousands of people” living in the West, working for the Russian intelligence services FSB, SWR or the military GRU.

“It’s a struggle for power, influence, resources and money. Germanythe most economically powerful democracy in Europe, are one of the main goals of Moscow “- emphasizes” Spiegel “, noting that for years Germany’s counterintelligence activities were weakened, and “the country’s political leadership is only slowly waking up from decades of sleep.”

“Together with Russian aggression against Ukraine, the threat of Russian espionage, disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks took on a different dimension, ”admits the head of the Ministry of the Interior, Nancy Faeser (SPD). As “Spiegel” notes, “digital war started before Russia fired its first missiles.

Russian spies and Germany’s reaction

Germany’s Reaction to Russian Espionage it resembles their approach to Russian imports gas natural gas. While the countries of Eastern Europe, the US and the UK have been warning for years about operations led by Russian intelligence servicesthe governments of Berlin, Paris and Rome preferred to close their eyes to the impending storm, “Spiegel writes.

As the newspaper adds, from time to time fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany it was noticeable “willingness to be friends with Russia”. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the federal intelligence agency BND even shut down its counterintelligence operations, believing that “Germany should now focus its attention on a new type of enemy” – the fight against Islamic terrorism. Counter-intelligence was considered “a survivor of the Cold War.”

Russian intelligence

But Russian intelligence apparatus existed and was doing well. According to the findings of “Spiegel”, up to 70 “illegal” workers can work for GRU and SWR. A much larger group of agents are employees of embassies and consulates of the Russian Federation abroad. It is believed that about 3,000 people work for SWR. Such “diplomats”, and for the GRU – about 1,000. Earlier this year, Western intelligence services estimated that there are still more than 150 diplomatic accredited Russian spies in Germany alone.

Moscow’s cyber warriors

The goal of hack groupsfinanced by Russia, German politicians had remained for years. In 2015, one group became famous for its attack on the Bundestag, stealing data from several MPs, including the parliamentary office of then-Chancellor Angela Merkel. In 2018, they managed to hack into the highly secured German network Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Moscow’s cyber warriors they use different techniques. They use sophisticated methods such as data theft and discrete analysis. The more brutal approach is to publish the stolen data on the internet so that everyone can see it, “Spiegel writes. Other hacker groups specialize in smear campaigns, spreading fake news, and spreading disinformation. However, one of such groups is the Ghostwriter, behind which the GRU stands, which has targeted German high-level politicians.

Putin’s hidden attack

Putin’s hidden attack on the West takes place at different levels: they are state sponsored hackers, diplomatic passport spies, agents and killers“-” Spiegel “notes, stressing that” Germany has ignored this problem for too long, and now the deficits are difficult to make up. “About 400 people worked in the German counterintelligence at the end of the Cold War. By 2014, this number had almost halved “despite numerous warnings from security experts,” adds Spiegel.

Dependence on Russian natural gas and oilFor years, as well as the high hopes that economic ties will lead to political changes in Russia, have made it difficult for Germany to respond to obvious hostility, “Spiegel” concludes. Germany changed its approach to Russiaand only in response to the invasion in Ukraine, previously only sporadically expelling persons suspected of espionage.

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