The number of Russian spies in the UK has exploded in recent years with up to five times as many Russian case offices in the UK as there were in 2010, a new report says.
The report from think tank the Henry Jackson Society says there are 200 Russian case offices in the UK handling up to 500 agents.
According to the report as many as half of the Russian expats in London could be informants for the Russian intelligence service, amounting to 75,000 potential assets.
The report’s author Dr Andrew Foxall said: “This report shines a light upon the activities of Russia’s cloistered intelligence agencies in Britain. The threat they pose harks back to a darker age.
"Though these agencies have been in the headlines because of the Skripal poisoning, they are not just engaged in assassinations. Instead, they are busily delivering Russia’s full suite of ‘active measures’ as part of a broad and malevolent effort to undermine our society.
"For too long, Britain’s security policy has been premised upon the naïve assumption that Russia has given up its Cold-War mind-set. This report shows that Russia’s spycraft is just as audacious as it has ever been.”
The report also says that as many as half of Russian Embassy diplomats are engaged in intelligence work, with as many be working in Russia’s Trade Delegation.
Former director-general of the secret intelligence service Sir Richard Dearlove said: “The West needs to wake up to the threat posed by Vladimir Putin and his corrupt and brutal dictatorship. For too long, too many people have been blind to the scale of the Kremlin’s insidious campaign of espionage on our streets.”