British spy chief Richard Moore said Russia was “on the verge of running out of steam” in Ukraine, in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto.
“The Russians will find it increasingly difficult to provide manpower, material over the next few weeks. They will have to take a break, and that will give the Ukrainians an opportunity to fight back,” MI6 chief Moore said in the interview, his first outside the UK.
“(Putin) suffered a strategic failure in Ukraine,” and forces lost 15,000 lives, Moore said on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum, adding that was “probably a conservative estimate. “.
However, Moore said it was very important for Ukrainian morale to demonstrate their ability to fight back.
“It will be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that this is a winnable campaign for the Ukrainians. Because we are about to enter quite a difficult winter.”
“Winter is coming and clearly, in this atmosphere with the kind of pressure on gas supplies and everything, we’re going through a tough time,” Moore added.
He said that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European countries made concerted efforts against Russian intelligence services.
“North of 400 Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover have been expelled”, and this has cut Russia’s spy capacity in Europe in half.
Asked about rumors of Putin’s poor health, Moore said: “There is no evidence that Putin has any serious health problems.”
His comments came after the expulsion of more than 400 Russian intelligence officers from cities across Europe and the arrest of several undercover spies posing as civilians.
Moore told CNN that since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, European countries have deported “north of 400 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover” across the bloc.
“And we in the UK feel that probably halved their ability to spy for Russia in Europe,” Moore said. He added that a number of “illegals”, or Russian spies operating under deep cover and posing as ordinary civilians, have also been exposed and arrested in recent months.
Asked if the war in Ukraine has made Russia a “target-rich environment” for the UK and its allies to recruit potential assets, Moore simply replied that “we hope” the Russians intelligence and diplomatic services “will reflect on what they are witnessing in Ukraine” and decide to “fight back against the system” as many did during the Prague Spring in 1968.
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