Last week Dutch intelligence uncovered a Russian military man attempting to infiltrate the International Criminal Court, where an investigation is underway into war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine; the agent obtained an internship at The Hague through a false identity of Brazilian nationality built up over years undercover.
In addition, Scotland Yard and the British security services arrested a man under the Official Secrets Act at Gatwick Airport, while attempting to leave the UK, on suspicion of spying for Russia. These are moves not new to the Kremlin's espionage system, which has been at work since the Cold War and has continued with these undercover spies called ‘illegals.’
These undercover agents spend years constructing false identities elaborate enough to be credible, but the system has never worked properly for either the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation. In 2010, the FBI uncovered ten of these ‘illegals’ who had been active in the United States for years but had neither been able to provide useful intelligence to the Kremlin nor act undetected. A more recent operation conducted by the same Russian intelligence agency as the ‘illegals,’ the GRU, was responsible for the murder attempt of defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK, in 2018, by poisoning them with a nerve agent.