The head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, also called MI6, believes Russia has lost its ability to spy in Europe "by half," as over 400 Russian intelligence officers from many European cities were expelled and several deep-cover spies posing as civilians were arrested, and is "losing steam" in its war against Ukraine as a result.
Richard Moore, the chief of MI6, told CNN's Jim Sciutto at the Aspen Security Forum that ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, countries throughout Europe have expelled "north of 400 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover," and that several "illegals," or Russian spies posing as civilians but operating under deep cover, have been caught and arrested in recent months.
"[A]nd we reckon, in the U.K., that has probably reduced their ability to do their business to spy for Russia in Europe by half," Moore stated. He believes Russia may be "about to run out of steam" in Ukraine, saying, "The Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks. They will have to pause some way, and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back."
The Ukrainians' morale is still high, Moore noted, and they are increasingly receiving good weaponry. On the other hand, Russia has failed significantly in its objectives to take Kyiv and is using "cannon fodder" for its incursions in Ukraine's east.
Moore hopes that Russians in the intelligence and diplomatic services will "reflect on what they are witnessing in Ukraine" and "strike back against the system." He stated, "Our door is always open," regarding the U.K. recruiting potential assets.
Regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's health, Moore said that there is no evidence that he is suffering from any serious illness, despite many rumors of him being possibly sick.
China is watching the war as well, but Moore believes that it is still too early to tell if Beijing has taken any lessons from Russia's invasion regarding its potential invasion of Taiwan. Moore said that Chinese President Xi Jinping underestimates U.S. resolve and power, which may lead him to miscalculate over Taiwan.
MI6 now devotes "more effort to China than any other single subject." However, it is "still a pretty opaque system." Citing Xi's desire to dominate certain technology spaces, Moore said, "[A]t one level, understanding Xi Jinping's strategic intent is not difficult. But if you go beneath that strategy in terms of how they implement, how they organize, how they, what their tactical intent is, and then what are the capabilities they're building up, that's a black box."
The Chinese are also helping Russia by buying their oil, Moore said, and would likely help Russia militarily if they could "get away with it." Regarding the partnership between the two countries, Beijing is clearly "in the driving seat."
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