MI6 chief urges Russians ‘appalled’ by Ukraine war to help ‘end bloodshed’ and 'join us' by spying for UK

19 July 2023, 12:47 | Updated: 19 July 2023, 13:09

Sir Richard made a rare public speech in Prague.
Sir Richard made a rare public speech in Prague. Picture: PA/Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The head of MI6 has urged any Russians who are ‘appalled’ by Putin’s war on Ukraine to "join hands with us" and spy for the UK to help end the war.

Sir Richard Moore, the chief of MI6, revealed in a rare public speech on Wednesday that a number of Russians are “silently appalled” by the Russian war on Ukraine.

A number of these Russians have already offered their services to MI6 in the last 18 months, he said.

“There are many Russians today who are silently appalled by the sight of their armed forces pulverising Ukrainian cities, expelling innocent families from their homes and kidnapping thousands of children,” Sir Richard said.

"They are watching in horror as their soldiers ravage a kindred country. They know in their hearts that Putin's case for attacking a fellow Slavic nation is fraudulent, a miasma of lies and fantasy."

Speaking from Prague, he suggested Russians must be dealing with "the same tugs of conscience" from the Ukraine war as some Russians did in 1968 when Soviet tanks crushed the Prague Spring.

"I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open," he continued.

He appealed to Russians grappling with these “same dilemmas” and assured them: “We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is famed. Their secrets will always be safe with us.

"And together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end."

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Sir Richard suggested the Wagner group&squot;s attempted coup was proof Putin is "under pressure".
Sir Richard suggested the Wagner group's attempted coup was proof Putin is "under pressure". Picture: Getty

It was Sir Richard’s second ever public speech since he was appointed MI6 chief in 2020.

He also addressed the recent attempted coup by the Wagner group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, which he claimed was proof Putin is “clearly under pressure”.

He suggested Putin’s discussion of nuclear weapons is: “Irresponsible, it's reckless and it is designed to try and weaken our resolve in supporting Ukraine and it will not work.”

Artificial intelligence is also being used by MI6 to disrupt the supply of weapons to Russia but not to replace “human spies”, Sir Richard revealed.

"My teams are now using AI to augment, but not replace, their own judgement about how people might act in various situations.”

"They're combining their skills with AI and bulk data to identify and disrupt the flow of weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine."

Although he warned AI me also be used by some “in damaging, reckless and unethical ways”.

"I remain hopeful that our common humanity and our shared interest in understanding the power of AI may yet lead to agreement on global co-ordination, on which our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is leading the way.”