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NATO ally expels undercover Russian spy

NATO ally expels undercover Russian spy

Vladimir Anatoleyvich Rusyaev. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: exclusive obtained by Yahoo News, AP (2)) WASHINGTON — On Oct. 30, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry delivered a rare warning to a Russian diplomat stationed in Sofia, the capital: Leave the country within 24 hours.The expelled diplomat, Vladimir Anatolyevich Rusyaev is affiliated with the Russian military intelligence service, or the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, commonly known as the GRU, according to a Western intelligence source.The intelligence source provided Yahoo News with a document describing Rusyaev’s career history, including a current photograph.Rusyaev has returned to Moscow, where he lives, according to the document. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov identified the expelled spy as a first secretary in the Russian embassy,  but did not provide a name. Borissov said he had attempted to recruit a head of a Bulgarian special service with access to classified information about Bulgaria, the European Union, and NATO.The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on Rusyaev’s case, and the Russian Defense Ministry and Russian Embassy in Bulgaria did not respond to a request for comment.While the expulsion of Russian spies from Eastern European countries, particularly NATO allies, is nothing new, it’s more unusual for Bulgaria, which has traditionally had friendlier relations with Moscow, to do so publicly, and may be in response to U.S. intelligence efforts.According to Marc Polymeropoulos, a recently retired senior CIA senior operations officer who was responsible for overseeing operations in Europe and Russia, the CIA under director Gina Haspel has redoubled pressure on allies to respond to Russian aggression. “The. U.S. government has been pushing our partners across the globe to counter a variety of Russian intelligence activity, both traditional espionage operations as well as the malign influence operations of the Russian intelligence services such as the GRU,” he told Yahoo News. Rusyaev, whose name appears to have only surfaced in a single Bulgarian-language news outlet, is the latest in a long string of GRU officers exposed and expelled from Western countries in recent years for spying or mounting aggressive covert operations against Western targets, revealing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to encourage aggression and boldness in his operators overseas.  Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in 2006. (Photo: Yuri Senatorov/Kommersant Photo/AFP via Getty Images)GRU officers were publicly found responsible for the March 2018 nerve agent attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, attempted cyberattacks directed at the Dutch Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as well as hacking into computers belonging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to a July 2018 indictment from the Justice Department. “It is always a good thing when the Russians get caught spying, particularly when their efforts to suborn a NATO ally are thwarted,” said Mark Kelton, one of the CIA’s former top counterintelligence chiefs. “The GRU’s attempt to recruit a senior intelligence officer is in keeping with their past actions, which have often been more aggressive and less well conceived than those of their sister Russian services,” he continued.The GRU has also attempted to infiltrate a range of European countries to access classified information, some of which, including the Baltic countries, Poland and Norway, for example, have been open about exposing and either convicting them or expelling them within recent months and years.When British authorities identified GRU officers caught poisoning former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, a coalition of We
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