Putin orders FSB to step up surveillance of Russians and borders

The FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, has already been operating in Russia as an expansive surveillance and censorship apparatus.

 Security officers block a street near the Federal Security Service (FSB) building after a shooting incident, in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019.  (photo credit: REUTERS/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV)
Security officers block a street near the Federal Security Service (FSB) building after a shooting incident, in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV)

President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the Federal Security Services to step up surveillance of Russian society and the country's borders to prevent risks from abroad and traitors at home.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Security Services Day - widely celebrated in Russia - Putin said the "emergence of new threats" increases the need for greater intelligence activity.

"Work must be intensified through the border services and the Federal Security Service (FSB)," Putin said.

"Any attempts to violate it (the border) must be thwarted quickly and effectively using whatever forces and means we have at our disposal, including mobile action units and special forces."

Putin instructed the FSB to maximize their "use of the operational, technical and personnel potential" to tighten control of the society.

Increased surveillance of Russia's citizens

The FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, has already been operating in Russia as an expansive surveillance and censorship apparatus and Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has involved a large swathe of the security services.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia June 16, 2020.  (credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS) Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia June 16, 2020. (credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

"Maximum composure, concentration of forces is now required from counterintelligence agencies, including military intelligence," Putin said, according to a transcript of his speech provided by the Kremlin and translated by Reuters.

"It is necessary to severely suppress the actions of foreign special services, quickly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs."

The FSB, headed by Putin ally Alexander Bortnikov, will also increase oversight of mass gatherings, strategic facilities and energy infrastructure.

Since the start of the war, demonstrations and dissent have been swiftly quelled in Russia, with more than 1,300 detained in September at protests denouncing Putin's military mobilization of 300,000.

No end in sight for Ukrainians withstanding Putin's war

In a rare admission of the invasion of Ukraine not going smoothly, Putin said that the situation in Ukraine's regions that Moscow moved to annex in September is "extremely difficult" and ordered the FSB to ensure the "safety" of people living there.

"It is your duty to do everything necessary to ensure their security to the maximum, respect for their rights and freedoms," Putin said, promising them more "modern equipment and weapons."

There is no end in sight to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, now in its 10th month. The conflict, Europe's largest since World War Two, has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, and reduced cities to ruins.

 Investigators work a site of a residential building damaged during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Stari Bezradychi, in Kyiv region, Ukraine December 19, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) Investigators work a site of a residential building damaged during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Stari Bezradychi, in Kyiv region, Ukraine December 19, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Moscow calls its invasion a "special operation" to denazify and demilitarize its neighbor. Kyiv and its allies in the West call it an unprovoked war of aggression to grab land.