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The Economist: Russian spies are back—and more dangerous than ever

Russian spies are back—and more dangerous than ever

The Kremlin’s intelligence agencies have learned from their mistakes over the past two years

Originally published by The Economist 

It is unusual for spymasters to taunt their rivals openly. But last month Bill Burns, the director of the cia, could not resist observing that the war in Ukraine had been a boon for his agency. “The undercurrent of disaffection [among Russians] is creating a once-in-a-generation recruiting opportunity for the cia,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs. “We’re not letting it go to waste.” The remark might well have touched a nerve in Russia’s “special services”, as the country describes its intelligence agencies. Russian spies botched preparations for the war and were then expelled from Europe en masse. But evidence gathered by the Royal United Services Institute (rusi), a think-tank in London, and published exclusively by The Economist today, shows that they are learning from their errors, adjusting their tradecraft and embarking on a new phase of political warfare against the West.

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