CIA sees recruitment opportunity among disaffected Russians


  • A CIA espionage chief said that the current climate in Russia opens opportunities for recruiting agents.
  • David Marlowe, CIA’s deputy director of operations, made a pitch to disaffected Russians who are “disgusted” with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.
  • Linda Weissgold, CIA’s Deputy Director for Analysis, said that the war in Ukraine is nowhere near its conclusion but the Russian soldiers are demotivated.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s deputy director of operations, David Marlowe, remarked that Russia’s failure in Ukraine opens up opportunities to recruit potential agents among disaffected Russians.

Speaking at George Mason University’s Hayden Center, Marlowe said that the invasion only made everything worse for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said that Putin, who previously had influence over Ukraine and NATO, “squandered every single bit” of his advantage.

Marlowe then made a pitch to potential agents: “We’re looking around the world for Russians who are as disgusted with that as we are. Because we’re open for business.”

Marlowe made the remarks during his first in-person public appearance since CIA Director William Burns appointed him in June 2021. The event also featured CIA’s Deputy Director for Analysis Linda Weissgold, whose division produces intelligence reports and briefs President Joe Biden and other senior officials.

Other former CIA senior officers have previously remarked on the opportunity to recruit agents among disaffected Russians, particularly disgruntled military officers and oligarchs impacted by sanctions.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European governments have flushed out hundreds of Russian diplomats suspected of being spies. The head of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, said that this has significantly hindered Russia’s intelligence operations.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum this summer, MI6 chief Richard Moore declared, “At last count, north of 400 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover have been expelled. We reckon in the U.K. that’s probably reduced their ability to do their business, to spy for Russia, in half.”

Russia, meanwhile, has also reduced the presence of U.S. diplomats to limit espionage opportunities.

There is not much information about Western intelligence operations inside Ukraine, only that CIA and MI6 personnel are on the ground.

Weissgold, who also served as intelligence briefer for President George W. Bush for two years, said that the war in Ukraine “isn’t going to end any time soon.” She said that it will depend on each side’s motivation to continue fighting, noting, “The Ukrainian soldiers know that. The Russian soldiers, not so much.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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