Screenshot from CIA video
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has initiated an unprecedented campaign to recruit Russians disenchanted with the war in Ukraine and life in their homeland, according to CNN.
The recruitment push includes a new CIA channel on the Telegram social network.
This channel posted a highly polished recruitment video was released online on Monday, which US intelligence officials hope will appeal to Russians privy to crucial information. It contains with instructions on how to contact the CIA anonymously and securely. The video was also posted on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Почему я пошел на контакт с ЦРУ: мое решениеhttps://t.co/mhQbzet5X2 pic.twitter.com/1Uj4POAOmm
— CIA (@CIA) May 15, 2023
The agency believes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a historic opportunity to “have Russians come to us and deliver information the United States needs.” The recruitment video does not explicitly mention Russian President Vladimir Putin or the war in Ukraine, focusing instead on “timeless” themes that have motivated disaffected Russians to contact the CIA in the past.
“We wanted to convey to Russians in their own language we know what they’re going through,” said an anonymous official involved in the project, CNN reported. The video is “absolutely not” meant to stir up unrest among the general population, but rather aims to target those individuals who might be contemplating defecting.
The recruitment drive comes after a successful initiative launched following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This previous effort led to contacts coming in, encouraging the officials to pursue a more aggressive approach with this new video. The CIA is looking to target a pool of Russians, numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands, who may have valuable information to share. This includes individuals in fields such as cybersecurity, tech, finance, the military, and diplomacy.
CIA Director William Burns noted in a speech last month that the war has led to a crackdown on opposition voices, independent journalism, and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian men sent to the front. “Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership,” he stated.
Former CIA head of counterintelligence, James Olson, praised the social media efforts, claiming that this is “probably the best period of recruiting Russians that we’ve had.” Olson added, “We can offer them protection. We can offer them security. We can offer them full anonymity. And we can offer them a package that corresponds to the value of the information they’re providing.”