Britain warns: Do not underestimate Russian spies

The headquarters of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), in Moscow.
The headquarters of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), in Moscow.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Recent failings by Russian military intelligence (GRU) have made it easy to laugh at its spies but the West should not underestimate the skills of the Kremlin's once mighty espionage services, Britain's Security Minister said on Tuesday (Oct 9).

The West has accused Russia's military intelligence agency of running what it described as a global hacking campaign, targeting institutions from sports anti-doping bodies to a nuclear power company and the chemical weapons watchdog.

"It's easy to laugh at some of the GRU's poor tradecraft and their ability, but we should not underestimate them, nor indeed the dangerous and reckless use of nerve agent on our streets,"the minister, Ben Wallace, told a security conference.

"We shouldn't also forget that there was a gigantic effort made by our police and MI5 to spot them in the first place, track their movements and also ... the huge effort that went in to develop the intelligence that helped guide us to the door of the GRU itself."