MI5 chief opens up on Russian threat to UK

Posted On: 
1st November 2016

The threat of Russia to UK national security has been laid bare in an unprecedented warning from the boss of MI5.

Hostilities between Russia and the west continue to escalate
Credit: 
PA Images

Andrew Parker, the director general of the UK's security service, said Moscow is using every tool at its disposal to “aggressively” push its agenda abroad.

In the first interview from a serving head of MI5 in the body's 107-year history, Mr Parker said the advent of cyber-warfare meant the battleground had changed dramatically since the cold war.

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“Russia increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to the west and seems to act accordingly,” he told the Guardian.

“You can see that on the ground with Russia’s activities in Ukraine and Syria. But there is high-volume activity out of sight with the cyber-threat.

“Russia has been a covert threat for decades. What’s different these days is that there are more and more methods available.”

He added: “It is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks.

“Russia is at work across Europe and in the UK today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.”

Tensions between Russia and the west continue to escalate following the crisis in Ukraine, with the focus of hostilities moving to Syria, where Vladimir Putin is backing President Bashar al Assad's regime.

Moscow has also been accused of using hacking techniques in a bid to influence the US presidential election in support of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Elsewhere, Mr Parker revealed that 12 Jihadi terror plots had been thwarted by security services in the last three years, and said there were about 3,000 violent Islamic extremists in the UK – most of them British.

His comments come as Chancellor Philip Hammond pledges to “strike back” at online threats under new cyber security plans.