Russian spies, lies and sabotage are coming to America

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Cue James Bond and Felix Leiter — the world of 007 is becoming very real again.

Russian spies, lies and sabotage are back with a vengeance in Europe, and on a level not witnessed since the Cold War.

Europe is burning. In Ukraine, it is kinetic warfare. But elsewhere, Moscow is conducting asymmetrical warfare against NATO member-states. 

Even as Russia’s army flounders, its Federal Security Service, heir and successor to the KGB, excels. Journalists and politicians are being bribed as part of influence peddling schemes. Arson attacks are growing like wildfire, including in England, Germany, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania – and Russian assassination attempts are increasing.

The same is coming to America. 

Much of Moscow’s foundational preparation work is already here. The first wave came in the form of online Fifth Columnists, manipulating the information ecosphere. But the Russian bots and paid trolls inundating social media represent only the beginning.

America’s open borders and the growing partnership between Russia and China are creating new opportunities for Moscow to conduct asymmetrical warfare in the U.S. The Kremlin is increasingly doing this by weaponizing Axis of Evil proxies from Caucasia and the Middle East.

Anti-Israel protests over the war in Gaza were the first overt example of this growing asymmetrical warfare breaking out into the open. Reportedly funded in part by Beijing, the campus protests quickly became fodder for Russian, Chinese and Iranian disinformation campaigns directed at the U.S., and this was no coincidence.

The Kremlin’s aim is to create and widen America’s political divide, and one means to that end is to radicalize significant numbers of young Americans. By this means, Moscow knows it can wreak violent havoc on America’s streets anywhere from coast to coast.

President Biden’s belated ‘crackdown’ at the border is at best a feeble start. But it does not go nearly far enough. By some estimates, 1.8 million illegal immigrants annually will still be able to cross into the U.S. Nor does his action address the significant security risks already caused by Biden’s grant of amnesty to 350,000 asylum cases. 

Alarmingly, illegal Russian migration at the southern border is surging. Prior to Ukraine, Russians accounted for 1 percent of all U.S. Customs and Border Patrol encounters. By May of last year, it was up fourfold “accounting for 30,500” encounters compared to 467 in 2020.

Illegal Chinese migrants are surging as well. As of April 18, “24,376 Chinese nationals have been encountered at the Southwest border.” That represents an alarming 8,000 percent increase since March 2021.

For now, the bulk of Russian sabotage is happening in the frontline states of Europe and in those countries closest to Moscow, including Poland and the Baltic States. Europe is still underreacting, and thus far, the White House inexplicably appears to be underplaying the emerging threat at home as well.

Nonetheless, ready or not, the Russian military intelligence is likely on the cusp of expanding its covert activities inside the U.S. It is already attempting to hit U.S. bases in Europe. On April 18, two Russians were arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting sabotage attacks, including on U.S. military facilities.”

Russia’s growing hybrid warfare against the West may already be kinetic in the U.S. On April 15, a fire broke out at an artillery shell plant in Scranton, Pa. Two days later, an explosion occurred at the United Kingdom’s only 155-mm shell manufacturing facility. Kyiv has been relying heavily on both.

The foundation is here already. Russia needs only to unleash its spies en masse, spin its lies, and organize sabotage against critical U.S. infrastructure. Power grids are exposed. Water treatment facilities are unguarded. Defense plants are at risk. 

Our military bases are vulnerable too. U.S. troops may have been under active Russian surveillance in North Carolina when a Chechen was killed and another arrested acting suspiciously around the house of an Army special operations soldier.

What we are facing is daunting. Combined, Russia and China represent a formidable foe to U.S. homeland security. 

Consider the results of their working partnership in Africa. Moscow brings the lethal boot while Beijing focuses on cyber and economic warfare. Together, they are toppling one democracy after another, Niger being their latest prize.

We are next. Like in Africa and Europe, expect Russian military intelligence to take the subversive kinetic lead, with Beijing playing a supporting role.

Washington missed the warning signs leading up to 9/11. It cannot do the same with regard to the Russian campaign of spies, lies and sabotage that is coming to an American city near you and is perhaps already there.

Mark Toth writes on national security and foreign policy. Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet served 30 years as a military intelligence officer.

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