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James Bond Out of a Job? MI6 Reportedly Fears Russia-Based Spies May Be Exposed

© Flickr / ClaraDonBond.......James Bond.......on the job!
Bond.......James Bond.......on the job! - Sputnik International
The UK's intelligence agencies are concerned that the Kremlin might disclose the identities of its Russia-based agents in response to London's accusations against Moscow in the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, officials speaking to The Independent have said.

The disclosures could start with some of the agents among the 23 British diplomats being kicked out of Russia in Moscow's tit-for-tat response to London's ouster of 23 Russian diplomats this week, according to the newspaper.

Doing so would be a break with normal practice observed since the end of the Cold War, which has been to refrain from disclosing the names and personal details of members of the security, intelligence and counter-intelligence establishments. Russia could use whistleblowing platforms like WikiLeaks to disseminate whatever information it has on the British security and intelligence operations, including the identities of its personnel.

A senior Whitehall official told The Independent that such a Russian response would be "utterly unjustified and irresponsible."

Two people wait to get into the Russian Embassy as a man works to untangle the national flag flown from the Russian Embassy, after it became entangled on its staff at the embassy in London, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - Sputnik International
Russia's UK Envoy to EU on Skripal Case Reaction: 'Trust But Verify'
"They know we did not make public the names of those working under diplomatic credentials we expelled from this country. That list was carefully calibrated and we intend to main channels of communication," the official said.

One former Russian senior diplomat stressed that "this would be a drastic step if this is what they are thinking," and urged both sides to use caution, taking account of  common enemies, such as Islamist terrorists. The official pointed out that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has thus far "produced no evidence of their claims about this nerve agent attack," and urged everyone to "remain calm and not do anything too drastic."

Russian ex-military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious outside a shopping center in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4. Suspected of being exposed to a deadly nerve agent, the pair were sent to hospital, where they remain in critical condition. The British government has accused Russia of involvement in the case, a charge Moscow has adamantly denied. Russian authorities proposed a joint investigation, and  asked for a sample of the poison allegedly used. London refused, instead introducing a series of measures against Moscow, including the expulsion of 23 diplomats, and the suspension of high-level bilateral contacts.

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