The head of MI6 has urged Russians appalled by the horrors of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine to “join hands with us” and spy for the UK to help end the bloodshed.
Sir Richard Moore used a rare public speech to reveal “many” had already taken this step since Russia’s invasion was launched 18 months ago.
The spymaster used his location – the Czech capital of Prague – to draw on the horrors inflicted there by the Soviet Union in 1968 to urge Russians to act on their convictions.
“There are many Russians today who are silently appalled by the sight of their armed forces pulverising Ukrainian cities, expelling innocent families from their homes and kidnapping thousands of children,” Sir Richard said, speaking at the British embassy.
“They are watching in horror as their soldiers ravage a kindred country. They know in their hearts that Putin‘s case for attacking a fellow Slavic nation is fraudulent.”
The spy chief highlighted comments by Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who exposed the phoney pretext for Russia’s war during his failed uprising, claiming it was to secure a medal for defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
“The oligarch clan that rules Russia needed a war,” Sir Richard quoted the Wagner boss as saying.
The head of MI6 said the uprising “exposed the inexorable decay of the unstable autocracy over which Putin presides”.
In a direct appeal to Russians, he appeared to make an offer of recruitment.
He did not identify who he would like to work with MI6 but it would likely be disaffected Russian intelligence, security and military officers
“As they witness the venality, infighting and callous incompetence of their leaders – the human factor at its worst – many more Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas and the same tugs of conscience as their predecessors did in 1968,” said Sir Richard.
“I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us,” he added.
“Our door is always open. We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which our service is famed.
“Their secrets will always be safe with us and together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end. My services lives by the principle that our loyalty to our agents is lifelong and our gratitude eternal.”