Inside Russia’s network of THOUSANDS of sleeper agents in UK who are hiding in suburbia and can KILL on command | The Sun

RUSSIA has a network of sleeper agents in the UK who are hiding in suburbia and could kill on command, ex-intelligence officers have warned.

Russian agents are told to integrate themselves into British society, hiding in plain sight while living seemingly innocuous lives.

But behind closed doors, they are helping to facilitate espionage activities.

Ex-British military intelligence officer Col Philip Ingram MBE told The Sun Online there are likely "thousands" of such agents operating in the UK.

He said: "They recruit and put them in as effectively 'clean skins' with no official connection to intelligence services and ask them to integrate into society."

Sir Philip told of how British authorities are only now "beginning to wake up" to the reality of the threat.

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He added: "What happened at the end of the Cold War was that the security services responsible for keeping the UK safe took their eye off the ball, in their focus on counter-terrorism.

"Hostile intelligence services especially from Russia and China didn’t stop at all – they continued to develop their intelligence networks and what we’re now trying to do is play catch-up."

Security expert Will Geddes, founder of International Corporate Protection, also told The Sun Online that Russian agents were operating on a "huge" scale in Britain.

He said: "There is an agreement where most countries will declare who is there and how many intelligence officers are located in a country.

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"But all countries will have intelligence officers who are not declared.

"They will embed themselves within communities and look like a normal foreign national. A lot of Bulgarians are targeted by Russian agencies to work on their behalf."

It comes as three suspected spies for Russia in Britain have been charged after five people were arrested in a major national security investigation, it emerged today.

Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, and Katrin Ivanova, 31, will appear at the Old Bailey in January.

Mr Geddes said "a lot of anonymous sources" will be required to give evidence should the case go to trial.

It comes after former intelligence officer Julian Richards said Moscow had become so effective at spying in Britain that intelligence agencies "don't know" just how many rogue operatives are active.

'Russia is now active at all levels of British society'

Speaking in November, Professor Richards said: "Either they’re very, very good at it, in which case there could be a lot of them out there that we just don’t know about."

"Theoretically they could assassinate someone, if they needed to."

Known as "Illegals", he also detailed how they spend years blending into normal civilian life and take up regular jobs in critical industries like national defence with the aim of manoeuvring themselves into positions of "access".

In June last year, MI5 revealed its belief that Vladimir Putin had ordered up to 50 sleeper agents based in the UK to carry out a cyber attack amid soaring tensions over the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at the time, a senior intelligence source said: "We have to assume Russia is now active at all levels of British society.

"They scoop up all forms of intelligence and pass it back to the Kremlin through handlers."

Britain has previously been targeted by Russian agents in recent years – most notoriously the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

The father, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the British intelligence agencies, and his daughter were found slumped on a bench in a "catatonic state" and spent weeks critically ill in hospital.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, later revealed to be using pseudonyms and whose actual names were Dr Alexander Mishkin and Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, are accused of carrying out the attack.

The pair bizarrely claimed to have been interested in the history of the local area, praising Salisbury Cathedral for its "123-metre spire and its clock, one of the first ever created in the world that's still working".

Sir Philip referenced the use of agents carrying out "patterns of life studies" ahead of attacks such as Salisbury.

He said: "These individuals tend to be facilitators who help enable Russian intelligence operations.

"They don’t have access into classified areas themselves but they help make things happen.

"The GRU operatives that came in and attempted to murder the Skripals – someone will have booked the hotel for them.

"They’ll have gone to Salisbury, checked Sergei Skripal was there the week beforehand, done what I call a ‘pattern of life study’.

"These are the things they do in the background for others to come in and act.

"Before the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, people will have gone round London to check the hotels and other bits and pieces.

"There’s an awful lot more of this going on – it’s more prolific than people think."

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