RUSSIA is begging for more ‘spies’ to operate in Britain after their manpower was crippled after the Skripal poisonings.
High-level talks were held this week with a desperate plea for the UK government to “remove the backlog” in beefing up their diplomatic presence.
The testing conversation took place between Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said much was made of the UK’s “unconstructive actions” which resulted in “serious obstruction of operation of Russian diplomatic missions in the UK”
But serious concerns exists here over the exact role of diplomats who seek visas for working in the country.
The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats in March 2018 who were identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”.
The Kremlin retaliated within days by expelling the same number following an attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
They were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire after being poisoned by nerve agent Novichok.
Raab, following the call, said: “We discussed a range of bilateral and international issues, including where we differ profoundly, as well as global challenges including international security, Covid-19, and climate change ahead of COP26.”
The phone call came 24 hours after US President Joe Biden met Russia leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
The pair spent more than two hours discussing arms control and US claims of Russian cyber attacks.
Ex-Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood, writing in HOAR on Sunday, said that “the Biden/Putin summit was more about two leaders getting the measure of each other”.
He added: “Putin needed this Summit to remind the world Russia still counts. All is not well in Russia with rampant corruption, rising popular dissent and economy hurting from legacy Western sanctions.”
It follows the UK National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove making a hush-hush visit to Moscow earlier this month to hold talks with Russian officials.