Andrew Parker accuses Russian country of interfering in elections, cyber-attacks, disinformation and criminal thuggery
The Russian government is the” chief protagonist” in a campaign is targeted at undermining western democracies, the head of the UK intelligence agency MI5, Andrew Parker, has said.
Speaking in Berlin on Monday, Parker listed a series of what he referred to as aggressive actions by Russia, including interference in elections, cyber-attacks, disinformation and criminal thuggery.
He drew a distinction between the Russian government and Russian people.” The chief protagonist among these hostile actors today is the Russian government. Notice I do not tell Russia. The UK has the utmost appreciation and respect for the people of Russia. For their proud culture and long history.
” We have no desire to escalate tensions or go back to the tense and dangerous days that Europe lived through during the cold war .” But the Kremlin would be called out for its actions, he said.
It was the first time a sitting director general of MI5 has spoken in public abroad. The objective was mainly intended to send a message to UK and European legislators not to let Brexit to undermine European intelligence sharing.
Expanding on excerpts of his speech released in advance overnight, Parker, who disclosed he had studied Russia at university, said the Kremlin had the central and admirable aim of building greatness on the world stage and there were ways to pursue that through the rules-based international order.
But Russia instead had through its repeated selections pursued the objective of which is instead through its military and intelligence services. Its default position when challenged was ” bare-faced lying “.
” The Russian state's now well-practised creed of mixing media manipulation, social media disinformation and aberration along with new and old different forms of espionage, and high-levels of cyber-attacks, military force and criminal thuggery is what is entailed these days by the word hybrid threats .”
He quoth the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, describing it as reckless, putting not only the former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, at risk but numerous others in the community. The Skripals' recovery was down to the” near miraculous” medical treatment they had received, Parker said.
Russia had offered 30 different alternative hypothesis about the two attacks, which he described as criminal thuggery.” Whatever nonsense they conjure up, the case is clear ,” he said.
Parker was speaking at a conference of intelligence officials organised by MI5′ s German equivalent, the BFV.
He told them he was not a politician but went on to talk about the potential implications of Brexit. He stressed the UK was leaving the European Union but not Europe, and MI5 and its sister agencies MI6 and GCHQ were committed to continued cooperation in combating terrorism.
He said it was crucial this cooperation was not weakened. There were communal European laws and pacts within which the intelligence agencies worked and he hoped a comprehensive agreement on Brexit would be agreed to allow intelligence agencies to continue with their joint run.
There is concern about laws governing data-sharing and privacy, as well as cooperation in the sharing of airline passenger lists. On top of this is the system of European warrants.
He hoped a comprehensive agreement on Brexit would be agreed that tackled obstacles and allowed intelligence professionals to get on with their joint work.
He added that although Islamic State had lost territory in Iraq and Syria, the threat it posed would have to be faced for years to come.