Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the statements by the British officials on retaliatory measures against Russia
Question: How would you comment on the recent statements of the British officials who said that the UK was prepared to “retaliate” against Russia, including by deploying its cyber warfare capabilities?
Answer: Yet again, we have seen a series of official statements to the effect that the UK should use its “massive retaliatory capabilities” to counter Russia’s “aggression”. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the UK had “considerable powers, and we’ll bring all these powers, both covert and overt to bear on Russia”. Last week GCHQ head Jeremy Fleming spoke in a similar vein saying that the British authorities and their allies were prepared to “counter the threat” allegedly posed by Russia. In this context he mentioned a plan to “deploy the full range of tools”, including Britain’s “offensive cyber capability” against Russia.
Such statements are reckless, provocative and unfounded.
It is worth recalling that Russia has made several proposals to the United Kingdom on different levels to establish cooperation both over the Salisbury incident and on cyberthreats. In December 2017 during the then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to launch expert consultations on this matter in order to address UK’s concerns, if any. By the way, some Western countries that have also accused Russia of “hacker attacks”, etc., have replied positively to a similar proposal. Unfortunately, what we see from the British side is only increased anti-Russian rhetoric. Moreover, while some time ago the idea of cyber attacks against Russia was suggested by MPs and journalists, now it is being voiced by ministers and high-ranking officials. Impression grows that the British public is being prepared for aggressive actions against Russia disguised as “defensive measures”, with eventual consequences impossible to predict.
We urge the British authorities to abandon such hostile rhetoric, and be guided by international law and common sense.