As the Russian government tightens down on outside information and dissent to the Kremlin’s months-long invasion, the CIA is providing Russians opposed to the conflict in Ukraine a secure avenue to contact the agency.
A CIA official told CBS News that for anyone who feels forced to approach us because of the Russian Government’s unfair conflict, they are offering Russian-language directions on how to discreetly contact the CIA via the Dark Web site or a reliable VPN.
As part of our global mission, individuals must be able to contact us securely from anywhere.
On Monday, the agency posted text-only instructions in Russian on numerous social media outlets, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, for accessing its dark website, which has proven helpful in safely eliciting information from people worldwide since its introduction in 2019.
Tor, or “the onion router,” is a browser that protects a user’s identity by encrypting their web traffic and is required to access the site. The CIA believes that it will make it easier for concerned Russian civilians and the Russian military in Ukraine to communicate with the agency safely.
According to Western assessments, Russia’s armed troops in Ukraine are suffering from low morale, with stories of soldiers refusing to obey instructions or destroying their equipment.
While opinion polls in Russia suggest widespread public support for the Kremlin’s invasion — despite a Kremlin-controlled narrative — US officials are closely monitoring potential fissures among Russian elites, some of whom have seen their fortunes wiped out by punishing sanctions and have publicly voiced opposition to the war.
Both Facebook and Instagram have been blocked in Russia since the invasion began, but users have found workarounds by using premium, paid VPNs to access censored sites. Recent reports show demand for VPNs in Russia has risen since the Kremlin enforced the ban.
A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the amount of interaction it had received from Russia through its dark website or how its analysts validated identities or information once contact was established.