‘Join hands with us’: Britain’s MI6 chief urges Russians to spy

Richard Moore’s invitation follows a similar call by the CIA two months ago, and is certain to provoke anger at the Kremlin.

Richard Moore, the Chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service
MI6 chief Richard Moore followed in Washington's footsteps when publicly urging Russians to spy [File: Matt Dunham/AP Photo]

The head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service has asked Russians angry with the invasion of Ukraine to “join hands” with the United Kingdom to help end the bloodshed, an invitation that is sure to stir fury at the Kremlin.

“I invite them to do what others have done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open … Their secrets will be safe with us and together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end,” Richard Moore told Politico on Wednesday, at the British embassy in Prague.

A similar invitation was made two months ago by Washington, when the CIA released a video urging Russians to get in touch.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 59th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine fire a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system towards Russian troops near a front line, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine July 18, 2023. REUTERS/Sofiia Gatilova
Ukrainian servicemen fire a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system towards Russian troops near a front line, near the town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine [Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters]

“Contact us. Perhaps the people around you don’t want to hear the truth. We want to,” the agency said in the clip.

Offers to spy hold huge risks. President Vladimir Putin has previously warned Russians against spying, a crime that carries a 20-year sentence.

During the Politico interview in front of an audience at the embassy, he also said British spies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to curb the supply of weapons to Russia during its war with Ukraine.

His staff are “combining their skills with AI and bulk data to identify and disrupt the flow of weapons to Russia”, said Moore, who has previously warned the West of falling behind its rivals in the AI race.

“Together with our allies, [we intend] to win the race to master the ethical and safe use of AI,” he said.

He warned that there was “absolutely no doubt” adversaries would try to develop artificial intelligence in a way which was reckless and dangerous, and that it would be his agency’s job to deal with that.

“It will be a significant part of our role going forward into the future, to try and … detect, uncover, and then disrupt people who would like to develop AI in directions which are dangerous.”

In his second speech since becoming chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2020, Moore said Ukraine’s counteroffensive was proving “a hard grind” but was optimistic since there appeared to be little prospect of Russia regaining momentum in Ukraine.

Moore said Putin’s administration was consumed by “venality, infighting and callous incompetence”, and that the Russian leader was “clearly under pressure”.

The Wagner Group mutiny has only “exposed the inexorable decay of the unstable autocracy over which Putin presides,” he added.

A view shows a crater made during a Russian missile strike in Ukraine
A view shows a crater made during Russian missile and drone attacks in an undisclosed location in the Odesa region, Ukraine [Press Service of the Operational Command South of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies