Russia poses growing threat to stability of the UK, MI5 chief warns

'There is high-volume activity out of sight with the cyber-threat,' warns Mr Parker

May Bulman
Tuesday 01 November 2016 02:32
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Mr Parker warned Russia was 'at work' in the UK and wider Europe, and increasingly using cyber methods that are 'out of sight'
Mr Parker warned Russia was 'at work' in the UK and wider Europe, and increasingly using cyber methods that are 'out of sight'

Russia poses a growing threat to the stability of the UK and is pushing its foreign policy abroad in “increasingly aggressive ways”, the head of the MI5 has said.

In what is claimed to be the first ever newspaper interview given by a serving MI5 chief, Andrew Parker - who has been director general for nine years - warned that Russia was "at work" in the UK and the rest of Europe, and increasingly using cyber methods to operate covertly.

Mr Parker told The Guardian: “[Russia] 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.”

The spy chief said the rise of cyberwarfare meant Russia was carrying out “high-volume activity out of sight” with the increasing range of “methods available”.

“Russia increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to the west...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,".

Mr Parker said Russia had been a "covert threat" for decades - but now there were more ways available for Russia to act.

Tensions have been rising between the west and Russia since the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and with Russia’s support for the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict.

In a further intensification in tensions, Russia sent a large naval detachment through the Channel last week, which was largely interpreted as a signal to the west.

Russia was recently voted off the United Nations Human Rights Council amid mounting allegations of being responsible for war crimes in relation to its actions in Syria.

Mr Parker also told The Guardian there have been 12 jihadi terror plots have been foiled by the security services in the past three years, and that there are about 3,000 “violent Islamic extremists in the UK, mostly British”.

He said the MI5 was to expand due to budget increases, which will see it expand from 4,000 to 5,000 officers over the next five years, adding that his aim was to equalise the gender balance in the security service and recruit many more operatives from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The spy chief also dismissed claims that Brexit would affect cooperation with European intelligence services.

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