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18/05/2023 | U.S., Russian spy agencies publish rival ads encouraging would-be informants

Joseph Fitsanakis

RIVAL ONLINE CAMPAIGNS BY American and Russian intelligence agencies are encouraging each other’s citizens to contact them, share information and possibly even defect. At least three ads have been on social media, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issuing the earliest one in February of this year.

 

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its Russian counterpart, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), are now believed to have published similar ads.

The FBI ad initially appeared on Twitter, directing users to the website of the Bureau’s Washington Field Office. There, a text in Cyrillic urges Russian nationals to “change [their] future” by contacting the FBI. The CIA followed suit on Monday of this week by posting a video on its new channel on Telegraph, a popular social media platform among young Russians. The CIA video portrays frustrated Russian government employees morally torn by the Kremlin’s policies. It concludes with them contacting the CIA through a secure online connection. A narrator’s voice states, “my family will live with dignity thanks to my actions”. Viewers are then assured that their safety is the CIA’s highest priority, should the choose to do the same.

Shortly after the CIA video appeared online, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Director of Information, Maria Zakharova, said that the Russian government would respond “appropriately” to what she called a “CIA provocation”. On Wednesday, a number of Western media outlets reported that the SVR had unveiled a short recruitment video seemingly targeting Americans. The video, shared on Telegram, includes archival news footage of United States military and police personnel, flag-burning demonstrators, and protests against abortions. It concludes with footage of President Joe Biden overlaid with a sniper crosshairs. A narrator states in English: “If you want to help normalcy, help the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation”.

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, both the United States and Russia are engaging in extensive cyber-enabled operations aimed at each other’s targets. However, these recruitment videos underscore the continued need for highly placed human sources and their central role in multi-platform intelligence collection efforts.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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