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CIA Seeks to Recruit War-Weary, High-Ranking Russians With Video Appeal

Central Intelligence Agency / YouTube

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) published a recruitment video Tuesday that targets well-connected Russians angered by their leadership’s war in Ukraine.

“Are you a military officer? Do you work in intelligence, diplomacy, science, high technology or deal with people who do?” reads the CIA’s message in Russian.

“Do you have information about the economy or the top leadership of the Russian Federation? Get in touch with us,” it adds.

“Maybe people around you don’t want to hear the truth. We do.”

The nearly two-minute cinematic ad first posted on Telegram, a messaging app popular with Russian speakers, depicts a fictionalized Russian bureaucrat who says he and his family “will live in dignity thanks to my actions.”

The recruitment video then explains how to anonymously and securely get in touch with the U.S. intelligence agency.

It also appears on the CIA’s YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the CIA's Telegram channel, which it created to publish the recruitment video and which currently has roughly 700 subscribers, "a very convenient resource for tracking applicants."

An agency official told AFP that while they had made the pitch on other social media before, they were now focusing on encrypted Telegram because it is the main medium for Russians to share and obtain information and news, about everything from politics to the war in Ukraine.

The CIA hopes that providing a simple but clear way to leak information via the dark web will convince cautious Russians to take the next step.

"Our aim is to provide avenues that are as secure as possible for them to contact us," the official said on grounds of anonymity.

The official stressed the United States was not seeking to provoke a revolt or regime change, but just hoping that some Russians might see it as a way to help their country move forward.

The official said similar outreach on other social media, much of it blocked now in Russia, did have results.

CIA Director of Operations David Marlowe said in November “we’re open for business” to Russians angry with the course of Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

The latest CIA pitch follows the explosive leaks of classified Pentagon documents that contained sensitive information about the war in Ukraine and were based on a variety of sources including human intelligence.

AFP contributed reporting.

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