Russia is “about to run
out of steam” in Ukraine, the head of MI6 has said.
Richard Moore said
President Vladimir Putin’s soldiers will “have to pause” as
they find it hard to find more troops and equipment to send to the frontline in
eastern Ukraine in the coming weeks.
This will enable the Ukrainian
military to “strike back” in what the UK spymaster said is a
Speaking at a security forum
in Aspen, Colorado, Mr. Moore also commented on the state of Mr. Putin’s
health amid rumours he had been suffering serious sicknesses such as cancer.
“There is no evidence
that Putin is suffering from serious ill health,” he said.
Speaking at the same security
forum on Wednesday, William Burns, the director of the CIA, also played down
speculation about Mr. Putin being ill, saying he is “entirely too
Turning to China, the country
which has become MI6’s greatest focus, Mr. Moore said a key reason why
Ukraine must prevail against Russia is because Chinese President Xi
Jinping is watching what happens “like a hawk”.
On the war in Ukraine, the MI6
spy chief said Russia had suffered “epic fails” in its initial
objectives, which he listed as toppling the Ukrainian government, capturing
Kyiv, and sowing division within the NATO alliance.
Russia’s focus has shrunk to
the east of Ukraine, where it is waging a bloody war of attrition.
Mr. Moore said: “I think
they are about to run out of steam.
“I think our assessment
is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to find manpower,
material, over the next few weeks, they will have to pause in some way and that
will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back.
“Their morale is still high;
they are starting to receive increasing amounts of good weaponry.
“It is important for the
Ukrainians themselves that they demonstrate their ability to strike back. That
will be important for their continuing high morale.”
Mr. Moore said it was a
significant reminder for the rest of Europe that “this is a winnable
campaign by the Ukrainians”, as allies brace for what will be a
“pretty tough winter” while the impact of Europe trying to wean itself
off a dependence on Russian energy is felt.
Offering a quote from the TV
series Game Of Thrones, Mr. Moore said: “Winter is coming and clearly in
that atmosphere, with the pressure on gas supplies, we are in for a tough
The head of MI6 gave a sense
of how European allies have moved to punish Russia’s intelligence services for
their role in the Ukraine war, halving Russian spying capabilities in Europe by
booting out more than 400 Russian spies operating under diplomatic cover.
Questioned on China, Mr
Moore said his agency devotes more resources to tackling Chinese threats and
challenges than any other subject, even surpassing counterterrorism.
Asked what lessons Beijing
might be drawing from the war in Ukraine for whatever ambitions the Chinese
government might have for Taiwan, Mr Moore said it was too early to tell.
But he continued: “I
think there is lots of signs of them really going into overdrive trying to work
out what they think about this.”
It made Ukraine’s ability to
win or at least to negotiate with Russia from a position of “significant
stress” essential “because Xi Jinping is watching this like a
hawk”, he said.