Russians appalled by Ukraine war invited by MI6 head to spy for UK

Sir Richard Moore said offers of help would be treated with 'discretion and professionalism'. Credit: PA

The head of MI6 has urged Russians dismayed by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine to spy for the UK.

Sir Richard Moore told them “our door is always open”, telling them they have a chance to help “bring the bloodshed to an end”.

He said while artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to help target the Kremlin’s war machine, technology will never replace human agents.

In a speech in Prague, Sir Richard said: “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.

“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, a miasma of lies and fantasy.”

MI6's Headquarters in Vauxhall Credit: Google Street View

He said “many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas and the same tugs of conscience” as their predecessors did in 1968 when Soviet tanks crushed the Prague spring uprisings.

“I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open,” Sir Richard said.

“We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is famed. Their secrets will always be safe with us. And together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end.”

He said Putin is “clearly under pressure”, as demonstrated by the recent revolt which saw Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries almost reaching Moscow facing no resistance.

“He really didn’t fight back against Prigozhin, he cut a deal to save his skin, using the good offices of the leader of Belarus," Sir Richard added.

Sir Richard said Vladimir Putin is 'clearly under pressure' after Wagner mercenaries staged a rebellion. Credit: AP

Asked about Putin's aggressive rhetoric, he said: “Even I can’t see inside Putin’s head, but … the only people who have been talking about escalation and nuclear weapons are Putin and a handful of henchmen around him.

“That is irresponsible, it’s reckless and it is designed to try and weaken our resolve in supporting Ukraine and it will not work.”

Sir Richard said that while AI technology is playing an important role in the war, human spies will always be a crucial asset.

Human agents “are never just passive collectors of information” and “sometimes they can influence decisions inside a government or terrorist group,” he told attendees at the British Embassy.

“As AI trawls the ocean of open source, there will be ever greater value in landing, with a well-cast fly, the secrets that lie beyond the reach of its net,” he said.

“My teams are now using AI to augment, but not replace, their own judgement about how people might act in various situations.

“They’re combining their skills with AI and bulk data to identify and disrupt the flow of weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine.”

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