Russia is confiscating its officials' passports to stop them fleeing the country or defecting, UK intel says
- Some Russian officials have had their passports taken away, UK intelligence said.
- The move is designed to "prevent the flight or defection of increasingly disaffected officials."
Russia is confiscating the passports of some officials to stop them fleeing the country, according to UK intelligence.
The UK Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Wednesday that "some officials have likely had to forfeit their passports" to Russia's Federal Security Service.
It said that "the measures are likely designed to prevent the flight or defection of increasingly disaffected officials."
The MOD described this as a widening of existing measures which have existed since Soviet times and were tightened in 2014 when Russia occupied Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
It said that "Since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian public officials and workers have been subject to increasingly severe foreign travel restrictions."
It also noted that employ closer to Russia's centre of power "face more severe restrictions; Kremlin officials are banned from all international leisure travel."
Russia has become increasingly isolated since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022, in part because of Western sanctions and travel restrictions, and in part because its government is cutting the country off.
In March 2022, it banned citizens from leaving Russia with more than $10,000 in cash. And the UK Ministry of Defence said in January that Russia had banned dual-citizen migrant workers from leaving the country as it mulls further military call-ups.
Some European countries have banned Russian tourists, and many nations closed their airspace to Russian planes.
Some of Russia's elite have travelled to places like Dubai since the invasion began.
Tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of young Russians fled the country when Russia announced a partial mobilization of reservists in September.
It is not clear how many of those people were officials or among the country's elite.
Some officials have fled Russia and are offering to hand over secrets in exchange for being granted asylum. This includes a former doctor with Russia's spy agency who said she collected secrets before she fled to France.
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