Kremlin pours cold water on MI5 chief’s claims of Russian threat

Andrew Parker’s warnings of hostile measures against the UK ‘do not correspond to reality’, says Kremlin


The Kremlin has brushed off claims made to the Guardian by the head of MI5 that Russia is taking various hostile measures against Britain, which together pose a threat to the country.

“Those words do not correspond to reality,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.

Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, told the Guardian that despite widespread fears of Islamic extremists, hostile state actors were a growing threat, and Russia was the main concern.

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

He added: “Russia increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to the west and seems to act accordingly. 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.”

Peskov said: “Until someone produces proof, we will consider those statements unfounded and groundless.”

Elsewhere in Moscow, there was an acerbic reaction to the Parker interview.

“I would like to ask the head of MI5 if he also sees the hand of the Kremlin in the appointment of Boris Johnson as head of the Foreign Office,” said Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry. She declined to comment further.

The Russian embassy in London, meanwhile, posted a message on Twitter saying it was “saddened to see a professional trapped to [sic] his own propaganda-created world.” Alongside the message was a poster for the 1966 film The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.

Director General of MI5 Parker interview for @Guardian: saddened to see a professional trapped to his own propaganda-created world

Russia’s actions have come under scrutiny amid US claims that Moscow was behind attempts to hack the Democratic party’s servers, with the intention of influencing next week’s presidential election. Vladimir Putin last week denied the charge, saying it was absurd.

Relations between Russia and Britain have been seriously strained since the murder of Alexander Litvinenko using radioactive poison in London in 2006. They have declined further in recent months due to Russian actions in Syria.

Numerous British politicians have voiced worries about Russian espionage and cyber activities in the UK, as well as concern about the Kremlin’s “information war”. A scandal broke out recently when NatWest bank said it was closing the accounts of the Kremlin’s English-language television station, Russia Today. Moscow has promised to retaliate against British media working in Russia if the move goes ahead. – The Guardian

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