The operational situation around Russia is changing for the worse, said Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech to the board of Russia’s Federal Security Service. There is a continued expansion of NATO military infrastructure close to the border, the US is withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and foreign intelligence has ramped up its activity, he noted.
According to Putin, foreign intelligence agencies are “trying to influence processes” in Russia, and “using all routes to seek access to information of a political, economic, scientific and technological nature”.
Last year, Russia’s counterintelligence agencies acted “effectively and aggressively,” Putin remarked, noting that special operations had been able to halt the activity of 129 foreign intelligence officers and 465 agents.
The Russian president stressed that these operations need to continue “on a daily basis”.
“This especially concerns the protection of data about the development, testing and production of Russian prospective weapons systems and cutting-edge military and dual-use technologies,” Putin said. “Control must be at its strictest and most careful in this area.”
In addition, the president claimed that Russia is being continually targeted in the cyber sphere: “There has been an increase in the frequency of coordinated cyberattacks, that is, attacks that comprise of several related actions”.
“Whereas between 2014 and 2015, slightly more than 1,500 such attacks were documented on a daily basis, which is also a lot, in 2016 it was already 12,000, in 2017 around 12,500, and last year – 17,000. Essentially, these are well-planned, large-scale operations that can cause serious damage to our country’s national interests,” Putin said, adding that Russia should prepare for growing cyber threats.
“In this regard, it is important to be timely in the adoption of additional measures to protect critical information infrastructure and to develop a state system to detect, warn about and eliminate the consequences of computer attacks,” the Russian president commented.
Previously Putin said that in 2017, Russia had halted the activity of 72 foreign intelligence officers and 397 agents, and 53 officers and 386 agents in 2016. These statistics equate to an 80% increase in foreign intelligence activity over one year and a 150% increase over two years.