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FBI Director Wray Sounds Alarm on the Presence of Russian Spies in the United States

FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a stark warning on Thursday, underscoring the persistent and substantial presence of Russian spies within the United States despite ongoing efforts to expel them.

Addressing the audience at the Spy Museum in Washington, Wray emphasized, “The enduring threat posed by traditional Russian counterintelligence remains a significant concern.” He elaborated, “The presence of Russian intelligence operatives, including intelligence officers, remains unacceptably high on American soil, and we continue to grapple with, thwart, and disrupt their activities tirelessly.”

The resurgence of attention on the threat posed by Russian spies in the United States is a notable development. As U.S. officials increasingly view Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, as an adversarial nation, conventional concerns about counterintelligence have resurfaced, reminiscent of the Cold War era when human spies operated on U.S. territory rather than relying solely on cyber espionage activities conducted from within Russia.

In response to Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent in the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom, the U.S. took decisive action in 2018 by expelling 60 Russian diplomats identified as intelligence agents and shuttering the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Wray also shed light on the diversity of Russian espionage tactics, highlighting the use of intermediaries such as a Mexican national apprehended by U.S. authorities in 2020, who was accused of aiding Russian intelligence operations.

Moreover, Dutch intelligence unveiled a Russian military intelligence officer in the past year who had attended the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. This institution is a favored choice for U.S. military personnel, aspiring diplomats, and future intelligence operatives.

While acknowledging some progress in reducing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the United States over recent years, Wray stressed, “We have taken significant and positive steps to minimize the footprint of Russian intelligence officers in the United States, effectively expelling them from our territory.”