On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the FSB domestic security agency to increase its activity in order to combat what he claimed was an uptick in espionage and sabotage against Russia by the West and the Ukraine.
In an address to authorities, Putin emphasized the importance of the FSB stopping “sabotage organizations” from entering Russia through the Ukraine, stepping up infrastructure protection, and preventing what he called Western security services from restarting terrorist or extremist cells inside Russia.
“Western intelligence services have traditionally always been active in Russia, and now they have thrown additional personnel, technical and other resources at us. We need to respond accordingly,” Putin said.
He instructed the FSB to prevent illegal weapons flows into Russia, and to strengthen security in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow has partially seized and claimed as its own – a move most countries at the United Nations have condemned as illegal.
The FSB needs to strengthen all its counter-intelligence activity, Putin told the agency that he once headed.
“Significant information about the control systems of our military and law enforcement structures, defence industry enterprises, critical technologies and personal data must be reliably protected,” he said, stressing the importance of secrecy around the latest Russian weapons and equipment.
The president did not mention any specific intelligence failures, but his comments implied concern about potential vulnerabilities.
In the year since he launched his invasion of Ukraine, Russia has seen drone strikes on its own territory, hacking of pro-government media and the assassination last August of the daughter of a prominent nationalist who endorsed the war.
Activists claim to have carried out dozens of attacks on railway infrastructure aimed at disrupting military traffic.
Details are hard to verify, but the FSB said this month it had detained three Russians involved in “terrorist acts” on railway infrastructure in the Urals region.
The latest instance of a cyber disruption, according to the emergency ministry, occurred on Tuesday when hackers forced local broadcasters to send out erroneous notifications advising people to seek shelter in bomb shelters.
Putin emphasized this issue again on Tuesday after previously warning Russians to watch out for traitors in their midst:
Separatism, nationalism, neo-Nazism, and xenophobia are being used as weapons by those who want to weaken and split our society. This must be identified and stopped.
He asserted that such conduct had always taken place in Russia. “Naturally, the attempts are currently at their peak of activity. attempts to bring this slime onto our property.”