The Central Intelligence Agency is looking for Russians who are "disgusted" with the Ukraine war to recruit them as spies, David Marlowe, the agency's deputy director of operations, said last week.
Marlowe told an audience at George Mason University's Hayden Center in Fairfax County, Virginia, that Putin was "at his best moment the day before he invaded [Ukraine]" because he had "all the power that he is ever going to have."
"He squandered every single bit of that," Marlowe said, before adding: "We're looking around the world for Russians who are as disgusted with [Putin's actions] as we are. Because we're open for business."
His comments were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which pointed out similarities to comments from former senior CIA officers, who have said that disaffection with the war in Ukraine has provided fertile ground for recruiting disgruntled military officials, oligarchs who have been financially impacted by the war, and those who have fled the country.
Marlowe was speaking alongside CIA Deputy Director for Analysis Linda Weissgold in his first in-person public appearance since taking over as the CIA's espionage chief last year, according to the Journal.
A video of the event was published by The Hayden Center on Monday.
Marlowe's comments come after a top British intelligence official revealed last week that European countries have expelled over 400 Russian officials suspected of being spies this year.
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum praised the intelligence community for its role in the ongoing Ukraine war and said these actions have "struck the most significant strategic blow against the Russian Intelligence Services in recent European history."
CIA Director William Burns appointed Marlowe as the agency's deputy director of operations in June 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported. He is a veteran officer who served overseas for many years "in several of the largest and most complex environments, including war zones," a CIA spokeswoman told the Journal at the time.