UP TO 4 Russian spies are believed to be operating in Westminster as one of Vladimir Putin’s alleged spooks has been arrested in London.
MPs and their staff have been told to stay alert as tensions rise with Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
Former British intelligence officials say it is likely that Russian security services have recruited political staff, party officials and people with “some degree of political reach” outside in Parliament.
And meanwhile, former Russian spy Boris Karpichkov, 62, insists that at least four Russian spies are currently working in Westminster.
And other sources confirm that there are a “few” of agents trying to infiltrate the heart of the British government.
Mr Karpichkov told The Sun Online: “I know of four people who belong to the Russian security services.
“There are a number of Congress-sponsored organizations operating in Westminster that are directly linked to Russian security service operations.”
The warning came as a Russian ghost suspect in his 40s was arrested under the Official Secrets Act as he attempted to leave the UK via Gatwick Airport.
He was taken to Hammersmith police station on charges of espionage and vandalism being “useful to an enemy state”.
And it comes just months after Westminster was rocked by a major spying scandal after MI5 accused a Labor sponsor of being a suspected Chinese spy targeting MPs.
The Security Service issued a warning and photo of Christine Lee, a Chinese national, accusing her of “facilitating financial contributions to serving and aspiring politicians”.
In light of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, congressman Chris Bryant said there had been no recent warnings to MPs about the presence of Russian spies.
But he said there are likely to be a “few” of Russian moles inside Parliament.
He said those working inside Westminster should be more vigilant as Putin ramps up war rhetoric against the UK over its support for Ukraine.
If the war drags on then I think we’ll see Russia go back to old Cold War-style espionage techniques.
Chris Bryant MP
And in a chilling warning, Mr. Bryant said: “If the war drags on, I think we’ll see a return of Russia to old Cold War-style espionage techniques.”
One former senior intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “skillful” Russians “can easily be recruited” in Congress.
The official said anyone working in Westminster should “understand the threat” and be “vigilant”.
Russia keeps a large amount of cash in Vienna ready to supply to potential double agents.
“I imagine that the Russians will have some sources in Westminster. I would say there are two or three sources,” he said.
“There will be sources from Russia – they are skillful, they are dynamic, of course it is possible.”
He added: “People need to be alert and understand the threat. The Russians will recruit people with some degree of political reach, if they can.
“If they’re inside Westminster, they can be blackmailed. That’s called espionage.”
And while Russian spies operating in the West may feel like something out of a James Bond movie or a John Le Carre novel, in recent years Britain’s closest America has discovered Turns out they were the ones who got rid of the spies working for Putin.
Maria Butina was found to have been working as a spy and trying to run US politics when she got her hands on Washington DC.
At a time of growing crisis and wartime, I think there will be a greater desire to have that kind of access – especially since Britain has been so pro-Ukraine.
She was jailed in 2018 before being deported back to Russia, where she is currently a member of Putin’s parliament – the State Duma.
And then Russian model Anna Chapman, the daughter of a KGB official, was arrested in 2010 after she was suspected of working as an agent in the US.
She was handed over to the Kremlin regime as part of a spy swap deal along with nine other suspected spies.
Among those agents are Vladimir and Lidiya Guryev – who live in New Jersey with their 11-year-old and 9-year-old daughters under the aliases Richard and Cynthia Murphy.
The couple tried to influence US politics, with Lidiya after an associate of Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008.
Another couple whose children were also part of the spy swap – Mikhail Kutsik and Nataliya Pereverzeva, also known as Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills.
The duo have been rumored as they claim to be from the US and Canada despite their thick accents – and they work by receiving encrypted radio transmissions.
Britain has also been the target of Russian spies in recent years – the most notorious being the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Putin’s men – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – managed to fly to London Gatwick and catch a train to Salisbury, where they tried to kill the fugitive and his daughter.
Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer, said she had “no doubt” that the Russians would try to infiltrate Westminster.
And she warned that there would be an “urgency” to do so due to the war in Ukraine.
She told The Sun Online: “I think it’s highly likely that people [in Westminster] will be targeted. Whether they succeed or not is a mystery.
“But I have no doubt that the Russians will try to do it.
“At a time of growing crisis and wartime, I think there is a greater desire to have that kind of access – especially since Britain has been so pro-Ukraine.
“There will be an urgency to it now.”
Ms. Machon said it was more likely that Russian nationals would be recruited into sensitive positions in Westminster, and it was more likely that Russia would try to recruit from outside.
“One would expect MPs to be warned – especially after the China case,” she said.
“Another warning will be issued with the intensification of the Ukraine war, to warn them to look out for signs that someone might be trying to dig into information.”
The Sun Online has contacted security services for comment.