The return of the Cold War between French and Russian secret services

By and Jacques Massey

Russian spies in France are trying to recruit business people, diplomats and military personnel, using resources and methods similar to those used at the height of the Cold War. French counter-intelligence officials are meanwhile working hard to unmask the Russian agents. Though Russia and France are co-operating over antiterrorism issues, their respective intelligence agents are engaged in a parallel, largely hidden struggle, with French soil as the battleground. Matthieu Suc and Jacques Massey report.

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The scene was not Checkpont Charlie nor did the events take place on a glacial Berlin night. Yet there was more than a whiff of the Cold War about them. In Paris on December 20th, 2017, patrolling officers from the police's Brigade Anticriminalité (BAC) unit thought they had surprised a drugs deal when they spotted a man handing an envelope to another man. The officers stopped and questioned both men.