Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the loss of life members of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) have suffered in the war in Ukraine and urged the agency to step up its counterintelligence activities in a speech to an expanded FSB board meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
"I would like to thank the leadership and all employees of the agency, especially those who worked on the frontlines: in the liberated territories, in the zone around the frontlines and behind enemy lines,” Putin said.
“Unfortunately, dear comrades, we all know that there have been losses in our ranks,” he added, without specifying the exact number of those killed in the war to date.
Putin stressed that consolidating the FSB's "operational and personnel potential" in areas of Ukraine currently occupied by Russian forces should be one of the agency’s top priorities for the coming year.
“It is imperative to work with the people, to help them in difficult situations. The trust of the residents of Donbas and Novorossiya is a key source of support for us all,” Putin said.
The Russian president also urged the FSB to step up its counterintelligence efforts in light of what he called the increased efforts of Western intelligence agencies.
“Western intelligence services … have allocated additional personnel, technical and other resources against us,” Putin said.
“We need to react accordingly.”
Noting the agency’s cybersecurity and counterterrorism efforts were essential for combating the threat from the West, Putin urged Russian security officials to “identify and stop the illegal activities” of those working to destabilize and break up Russia from the inside.
“Separatism, nationalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobia … have always been used against our country and now, of course, the attempts to activate all that scum on our land are more active than ever,” said Putin.