“We continued to work intensively to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to conduct covert operations in the UK,” McCallum said, adding that the UK should be prepared for Russian aggression for years to come.
“In the case of the UK, after the expulsion of 23 Russian spies posing as diplomats, we denied more than 100 applications for diplomatic visas on grounds of national security,” McCallum said.
He called the expulsion of Russians from the UK a blow to the entire Russian spy network in Europe. Agent data was shared with European allies, making it “not easy for the Russians to keep in touch” and signal that a spy had been “exported from country A to country D”.
The head of MI5 expressed hope that a large number of “trained and experienced Russian Russian intelligence talents, if I may use the term” would find it harder to operate in most other parts of the world for many years to come.
In July, the head of British foreign intelligence MI6, Richard Moore, said that 400 employees of Russian diplomatic missions expelled from Europe turned out to be intelligence officers working under the guise of diplomats. In addition, he noted, the special services managed to arrest several deep-cover “illegal” spies who were posing as civilians.