Russians who wish to betray their country to British spies will be met with open doors and gratitude, Secret Intelligence Service director Sir Richard Moore said on Wednesday in a speech at the UK embassy in Prague, Czechia.
Moore compared the current Ukraine conflict with the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, claiming that “many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas and the same tugs of conscience as their predecessors did in 1968.”
“I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open,” the head of the Secret Intelligence Service 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. My service lives by the principle that our loyalty to our agents is lifelong – and our gratitude eternal.”
Moore claimed that “many Russians” reached out to his agency, better known as MI6, as “partners for freedom” back in 1968, because they did not want to be on the “wrong side of history.”
In Moore’s telling, Ukraine was winning on the battlefield and “there appears now to be little prospect of the Russian forces regaining momentum.” Meanwhile, both the government in Kiev and multiple senior US officials have acknowledged that the current Ukrainian offensive has stalled with little to show for massive losses.
If Russia had little chance of regaining ground, Moore “would not be making such a fuss,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on Telegram in response to the speech by the British spy chief.
“As for ‘open doors and keeping secrets,’ people might have believed you if you had presented the Skripals,” she added. “You’re usually the first to destroy those who trust or believe you.”
Sergey Skripal was a Russian military intelligence officer who became a “mole” for British intelligence. He was arrested in 2004 and convicted of high treason, but traded to the UK in 2010. British authorities have accused Moscow of attempting to poison Skripal and his daughter Yulia – who came to visit from Russia – in March 2018, alleging the use of “novichok” nerve agent but producing no evidence. The Skripals allegedly survived the attempted poisoning but were never seen again.