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Tags: spy network | russia | slovenia | agents | ukraine | vladimir putin

Capture of Agents Exposes Putin's Extensive Spy Network

By    |   Monday, 17 June 2024 09:48 PM EDT

A classified trial is expected to have its first judgment in the coming weeks on two officers in Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, who posed as an Argentine couple living in Slovenia in order to conduct espionage as "illegals," or deep-penetration agents, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The couple are seen as just two crucial cogs in Russian President Vladimir Putin's fast-expanding shadow war with the West.

In fact, other suspected Russian illegals have been exposed in several European countries since the Ukraine invasion in the largest unmasking of deep-penetration agents since an FBI operation that captured 10 Russian spies in the United States in 2010.

After Slovenia's security services arrested the two SVR officers, two other suspected Russian illegals – a woman and man carrying Greek and Brazilian passports – suddenly left Athens and Rio de Janeiro, abandoning businesses and romantic partners who did not know of their real identity.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the agents were called back to Moscow due to concern over the collapse of a network after the Slovenia arrests, officials said.

Western intelligence agencies estimate it costs Moscow millions of dollars per person to build out over a number of years a spy's fake background story. At the same time, beneath the surface, these deep penetrating agents are actively gathering intelligence and transmitting it back to the Kremlin, while also looking for individuals who could be recruited as future agents.

These deep-penetration agents have become a more important tool for Moscow after some 700 suspected Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover were expelled across the globe following the Ukraine invasion.

"Illegals are again growing in significance for Moscow, especially as the line between espionage and war is becoming almost nonexistent," Andrei Soldatov, a Russian security expert who has spent years studying Moscow's spy networks, told The Wall Street Journal.

The SVR agents in Slovenia have now served more than 18 months in prison and could be a possible part in any prisoner exchanges agreements reached with Russia, including those that may involve jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, according to senior Slovenian and U.S. officials.

Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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A classified trial is expected to have its first judgment in the coming weeks on two officers in Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, who posed as an Argentine couple living in Slovenia in order to conduct espionage as "illegals," or deep-penetration agents.
spy network, russia, slovenia, agents, ukraine, vladimir putin
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2024-48-17
Monday, 17 June 2024 09:48 PM
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