LONDON (Reuters) – The head of Britain’s Homeland Security Service said on Wednesday the expulsion of more than 400 suspected Russian spies from across Europe questhe year was the “most significant strategic coup” on Moscow in modern history, and it took Russian President Vladimir Putin by surprise.
Ken McCallum, director general of the intelligence service known as MI5, said a huge number of Russian officials were expelled in around the world, including more than 600 from Europe, more than 400 of whom have been declared spies. .
“This dealt the most significant strategic blow to Russian intelligence services in modern European history,” he continued in a speech at the agency’s headquarters in London. “Coupled with waves of coordinated sanctions, this scale took Putin by surprise.”
He also described innuendoes received from Moscow about Britain’s involvement in the bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipelines as “ridiculous allegations”.
He said the expulsions followed a pattern set up by Britain after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in Salisbury, southern England, in 2018, which led to a wave of expulsions of diplomats.
McCallum also indicated that questBritain rejected more than 100 Russian applications for diplomatic visas this year, on grounds of national security.
Due to the Russian operation in territory of Ukraine, Britain has so far imposed sanctions on more than 1,200 people, including prominent businessmen and politicians, and more than 120 entities in Russia.
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