Tags: Russia | spies | nato | espionage | vladimir putin | gru

Putin's Spies Now 'Really Don't Care' If They Get Caught

vladimir putin sits at table
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a video conference on June 26, 2020 at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow. (MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 31 March 2021 02:16 PM

Vladimir Putin's Russian spies are getting more and more brazen, showing little concern if they get caught, a NATO official says after Bulgaria arrested 6 alleged Russians spies embedded at NATO.

"They get caught a lot in Bulgaria but like everywhere else it's as if they don't really care," the official told Business Insider. "We end up seeing so many Russian operations because they're crazy.

"America isn't sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will. And if you send a guy to kill someone with a hammer or nerve agents, the message you send is that you don't care if you get caught."

Among the 6 arrested in Bulgaria, one spy was nicknamed "The Resident" – an old Russian KGB term for a spy – and NATO officials noted "amateurish" operations, according to the report.

"They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn't all end up starring in a YouTube video," a source told BI.

A Russian-Bulgarian with dual citizenship was the center of it all in Sofia, Bulgaria, having married a top Bulgarian defense ministry official.

"They've got the wife of a prominent figure in the defense industry — who happens to hold dual Bulgarian-Russian passports — coordinating a bunch of agents herself and she's on video taking meetings at the embassy and in public with Russian officials," an undercover NATO counterintelligence official told BI.

"And who is running this woman — again married to one of the top agents — on the Russian side? The top two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Sofia run her themselves to the point they're caught on video with her.

"This isn't a bunch of dumb thugs from the GRU [Russian military intelligence] either, this is the proper SVD [a premier Russian intelligence service previously known as KGB] running operations from an embassy in a NATO capital."

The clumsiness and lack of language fluency were striking, the official told BI.

"The tasking memo was pretty amateurish but normal I guess, they wanted as much info on anything related to NATO that wasn't Bulgarian because they don't care about Bulgaria they clearly only care about foreign NATO officers," the official added. "But that it's in illiterate Bulgarian makes me crazy. An American or French officer with terrible Bulgarian — but good Russian — would make sense but the SVD has no excuse."

The fact the Russian spies did not even attempt to conceal their interconnections shows a brazen espionage effort, according to the official.

"It looks like maybe the Russians recruited this single MOD official, who then expanded the network to include others and it was all run through that central point," the official told BI.

"That's a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail: In this case [if you] figure out The Resident or his wife then you have caught all the agents, not just one.

"It can be hard to arrange but this is a valuable agent in a NATO MOD [Ministry of Defense]. They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn't all end up starring in a YouTube video."

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Vladimir Putin's Russian spies are getting more and more brazen, showing little concern if they get caught, a NATO official says after Bulgaria arrested 6 alleged Russians spies embedded at NATO. "They get caught a lot in Bulgaria...
spies, nato, espionage, vladimir putin, gru
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2021-16-31
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 02:16 PM
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