It's no secret that all embassies are often engaged in some sort of intelligence routine, to varying extents. And at one time, Soviet diplomatic missions were among most aggressive ones worldwide in terms of intelligence activity.
When the USSR was still in place, a certain part of the intelligence obtained targeted new technology that the Soviets couldn't master in any other way but stealing it through espionage.
The Russian Federation never abandoned the practice of using diplomatic missions as spy nests, but unlike the USSR, it did not focus on gathering valuable, high-tech intel. This is largely due to the fact that, even having obtained such information, Russia can hardly use it due to the lack of appropriate technology. Instead, the main focus of Russian embassies was to spread controlled chaos in their host countries.
Recently, a joint investigation of the Spanish newspaper El Pais, an international group of investigative journalists Bellingcat and Civic Media revealed that at least three GRU operatives had traveled to Barcelona from 2016 to 2017, on the eve of the illegal referendum on Catalonia independence.
All three belonged to the GRU's secret "Unit 29155", and traveled with fake IDs. For example, Denis Sergeyev used the alias Fedotov (he regularly visited Barcelona, including two days before the "referendum"), Alexey Kalinin used the alias Nikulin (arrived in Barcelona a month after Sergeyev arrived), and Mikhail Opryshko, who arrived in Barcelona after the Spanish government introduced direct rule in Barcelona.
I should note that the Spanish investigation is now completely focused on the said Unit 29155, which has been repeatedly accused by Western intelligence agencies of destabilizing Europe.
But let's shift our focus for a bit from Barcelona to Paris. I believe everyone remembers how, in 2018, the quite ordinary protests of the "Yellow Vests" sparked by rising gasoline prices very quickly radicalized and became anti-government. It was largely because Moscow decided to take the helm of the process through their puppets in France.
Let me remind you that the radicalization of the "Yellow Vests" protests was carried out through the cells of Marine Le Pen's "National Association", while the Russian GRU was involved in transferring the economic pretext of rallies to the political plane. Moreover, the Paris protests were a "survival test" for Igor Kotsyukov, who had just become the new GRU chief.
It is also worth noting that Russian intelligence operatives Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, who failed the mission in the UK to assassinate Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, were led by GRU Major General Denis Sergeyev, who had arrived in London two days before the attempt, March 2, 2018, and flew away on the day of the Skripals poisoning, March 4.
Now let's see what's been going on in Belarus… In October came the report that Russian military attaché Roman Spiridonov was expelled from this country over espionage charges.
Last spring, it was Russian Ambassador Mikhail Babich who was thrown out of the country (or "recalled", as per the official version). This is the man, who was originally supposed to be deployed in Kyiv, and who is now overseeing Donbas operation at the FSB. While Babich was in top diplomatic office in Belarus, his right hand was military attache Kirill Kolyuchkin, whose professional skills swirl around the issue of organizing coups.
Talking of the earlier mentioned Roman Spiridonov, it is worth noting that he has nothing to do with diplomacy. He is engaged in intelligence gathering. However, he's apparently not too good at it as by the time of his expulsion from Belarus, his track record had already included another high-profile failure in France, where he was also declared non-granta over espionage.
Meanwhile, Russian "diplomats" Yevgeny Sutsky and Andrei Komarov, who were recently expelled from Germany in connection with the Berlin assassination of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, turned out to be GRU operatives.
Behind almost every large-scale and radicalized protests and violent anti-government riots that took, take, and, unfortunately, will take place in Europe, there are traces leading to Russian embassies, where almost all such processes are tailored.
Weakened by internal social upheavals, Europe won't manage to withstand Russia for too long, simply because through sowing such chaos it is much easier to bring to power those who are nothing more than a Kremlin puppets.
Due to social tension and constantly fueled ethnic rows, Marine Le Pen remains a rather popular politician in France. In Italy, Lega Nord came to power via populist slogans. In Scotland, another referendum on independence is being prepared, which I'm positive will be actively supported in social networks through Russian-registered servers.
Russia's GRU pursues with the implementation of its project of sowing chaos across Europe, using its embassies as command posts. And that's what's happening almost all over the world. The only thing that keeps them somewhat lagging is the lack of full knowledge of modern technologies, which, in turn, leads to constant tactical failures.