CIA lobby


  • Kremlin accused the U.S. of interfering with internal affairs after the CIA launched its recruitment campaign
  • Russia called the CIA recruitment ad "inflammatory material" and warned of an "effective response"
  • A former CIA official said Russians who want to share info may now have secure means to do it

The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) recruitment campaign aimed at wooing frustrated Russians to spy for the U.S. has angered the Kremlin.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova released a forceful response to the CIA's recruitment video, accusing the U.S. of "attempts to interfere in our internal affairs and attempts to destabilize the situation in our country," ABC News reported.

"Such malicious activity, including the distribution of inflammatory materials, will not remain without a proper effective response," Zakharova added.

On Monday, the CIA launched its official channel on Telegram, the encrypted messaging app favored by Russians. On its account, the agency posted a dramatized video inviting Russians to share information that could be critical to U.S. intelligence efforts, along with instructions on how to get in touch with the CIA anonymously and securely.

"Contact us. Perhaps the people around you don't want to hear the truth. We want to," the text of the CIA's Russian-language video read.

The CIA said in the video that it wants to "know the truth about #Russia, and we are looking for reliable people who know and can tell us this truth."

At the end of the video, the Russian narrator said he decided to speak up and will "endure" and "live with dignity because of my actions."

A CIA official, who requested to remain anonymous, told ABC News that the recruitment campaign aims to appeal to the Russians' desire to do the right thing.

The intelligence official suggested that Russians are "feeling compelled" by Russia's invasion of Ukraine to reach out and engage with the U.S. government.

"Many Russians may be ready to [contact us]," the official said. "They just need direction on how to do it."

The recruitment targeting Russians is a "stroke of genius," according to Darrell Blocker, a former CIA deputy director of its counterterrorism unit.

Blocker called the campaign a "walk-in," known in intelligence circles as a mode by which citizens can come forward to share what they know. The former CIA official said the walk-in program is one of the agency's "quiet success stories" and "most lucrative intelligence cases" in the history of U.S. intelligence.

Blocker said he believes the video would spark interest among Russians to share what they know about their country but do not have the secure means to do so.

Despite the public nature of the recruitment campaign, Blocker said the CIA is capable of weeding out people who might want to exploit it by providing a false identity or information.

When asked why the war in Ukraine was not mentioned in the CIA video, Blocker said referring to it in the material could be seen by Russian authorities as a provocation.

Last year, the CIA launched its darknet website to help Russians dissatisfied with Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine contact the American intelligence agency.

According to the Associated Press, the darknet site has the same features as the CIA's official website but is accessible only through the Tor internet browser.

The Kremlin has glorified the Soviet Union's geopolitical and military might