Mexico opens the doors to more “diplomats” of Vladimir Putin

Mexico Russia

With the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin‘s interventionist practices against his enemies have intensified. In the last year and a half, since the offensive began, dozens of European countries have warned about espionage operations by alleged Russian diplomats in their territories and have moved forward with their expulsion, after ignoring the warnings.

Already, more than 400 Kremlin employees located in embassies across the continent have been shut out and sent back to their country. Just to cite a few examples, Germany kicked out 60 representatives from Moscow, Poland 45, the Netherlands 17, Sweden five, Austria four and Finland nine. This represents the cessation of activities of more than half of Putin’s spies operating in Europe.

However, true to form, the Russian leader refused to give in to the intimidation of the world and sought a way to go ahead with his plans. It was then that he turned to his ally, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who in theory claims to be neutral in the face of the war.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mexico extended its hand to Russia and accredited the entry of 36 new diplomats in the country -many of whom could be those expelled from Europe-. These, added to the 49 that already existed prior to the invasion of Ukraine, give a total of 85 diplomatic employees on Mexican soil.

According to information that Infobae accessed, in charge of this visa issuance were the Foreign Secretary, Eduardo Villegas Megías; the director of the Office of Protocols, Susi Iruegas; and the Directorate of Consular Services.

As much as the Kremlin wants to camouflage its operations under the charges of “political affairs advisers”“honorary consulates”“military attachés” and “commercial offices” , the sudden increase of 60% in the official staff of the Russian Embassy in Mexico it can only account for Putin’s wishes to expand his maneuvers in the American continent.

In this way, the diplomatic headquarters in the Mexican capital became the embassy with the most employees in all of Mexico; far surpassing the United States, its main trading partner and neighbor.

In this sense, John Feeley, former US ambassador and security specialist, assured the Mexican media that “the number of Russian diplomats in Mexico would not make any sense if what they were doing were traditional embassy tasks” and, on the contrary, He stressed: “Spies almost always have a diplomatic cover.”

In this way, Russia took advantage of López Obrador and set up an operational headquarters of the GRU -his ultra-secret intelligence agency- at the gates of Washington and ready to violate the principles of the Vienna Convention.

Some analysts view the request of the recently appointed Moscow ambassador to Mexico, Nikolai Sofinski, with suspicion, and believe that the country is close to the concept shared by Russia and China of “multipolar order.” Concern grew when it became known that the Russian headquarters in the Mexican capital concentrates the largest number of GRU agents in the world.

Thanks to this, Russian spies will now be able to meet with their covert agents in the United States more regularly, thus increasing the effectiveness of their operations and the frequency of their attacks.

However, nothing guarantees López Obrador that he will not suffer the same fate as the officials and the German Parliament who were also spied on and tracked by these undercover agents. It should be noted that Mexico only has 11 accredited diplomats in Moscow: another clear sign of the violation of the reciprocity criterion.

In the end, these are not real allies but strategic players in Putin‘s fight. The only difference is that Mexico lacks the counterintelligence practices to stop Putin’s maneuvers and is unlikely to turn its back on him as Europe did.