Dozens of Russian secret agents continue to work in the country under the guise of diplomats, and Switzerland remains one of the hottest spots for Russian espionage.
This revelation was shared in the annual state security report released by the Swiss intelligence services on 26 June, media reported.
The report states that dozens of Russian secret agents continue to work in Switzerland under the guise of diplomats, and Switzerland remains one of the hottest spots for Russian espionage.
Many Russian spies were expelled from the EU
According to the document, in recent years, many Russian spies have been identified and expelled from the European Union and North America. Their expulsions have become more frequent after the attempted murder of the Skripal family in the UK in 2018 and after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
However, in Switzerland, the number of expulsions has remained unchanged, which is particularly dangerous as the neutral country is a platform for many international initiatives. In particular, the European headquarters of the United Nations is located in Geneva. The Russian mission there is also considered by Switzerland to be a possible base for intelligence agents under diplomatic cover.
220 people work in Russia’s diplomatic missions in Bern and Geneva
Swiss counterintelligence believes that of the 220 staff accredited to Russia’s diplomatic missions in Bern and Geneva, at least a third work for Russian intelligence.
In addition, the Swiss intelligence services are concerned about a large number of alleged spies in China’s diplomatic missions but believe that they are still fewer than in Russia.
Swiss intelligence assume that Russia’s war in Ukraine will not end in 2023
Based on its assessment, the Swiss intelligence services assume that Russia’s war in Ukraine will not end in 2023. As the battle continues, the West, which provides financial and military support to Ukraine, will increasingly push its authorities to negotiate with Russia.
They believe Russia is ready for a protracted war. They also think that Russia will continue to threaten to use nuclear weapons. Still, it is implausible that it will follow through on its threats.
Switzerland plans to join EU military projects despite its neutrality
In May, the Swiss government announced plans to join EU military projects despite its neutrality. And on 7 June, the Upper House of Parliament approved an amendment to the law regulating arms re-exports.
According to the amendment, the transfer of military equipment will be allowed to a country involved in a conflict if that country exercises its right to self-defence under public international law, does not violate human rights, and does not use weapons against civilians.