Switzerland considered a hotspot for Russian spies and espionage
The outbreak of the war in Ukraine has sounded alarm bells in intelligence circles across Europe. Now, the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) has revealed that the Russian secret service is not only present in Switzerland, but that one-third of Russian diplomats in the alpine country are suspected of being spies.
Up to a third of Russian diplomats in Switzerland could be spies
In a statement given to Blick, the FIS said that they had identified “continued aggressive espionage activity" in Switzerland. They said that spies, most notably from Russia, are sent to target countries under the guise of being diplomats. Once in the country, they seek to acquire information or data from their assigned target, from institutions of government to international companies.
For clear reasons, the FIS did not reveal what the Russian secret service was doing in Switzerland, but acknowledged that around a third of “diplomats” sent by Russia to Switzerland are either identified as spies or are suspected of working for the secret service under diplomatic protection.
FIS hopes to thwart espionage attempts in Switzerland
The FIS assured the public that it has been able to prevent attacks on companies in Switzerland in the past, citing the examples of when it thwarted an espionage attack in Canton Bern and against the World Anti-Doping Agency. In 2016, the FIS were instrumental in uncovering a Russian secret service unit, leading to their arrest by Dutch police.
To prevent further attacks, the FIS said that international cooperation was key to stopping cyber and espionage attacks in Europe. Already, global organisations like SWIFT are being placed under heightened police protection because of the threat of espionage.
According to Russia analyst Gustave Gressel, a far more coordinated system of cooperation is needed to combat the threat. However, because of Switzerland’s commitment to neutrality, he acknowledged that many are not prepared to work together to that degree.