LONDON Nov 1 Russia is pushing its foreign
policy in increasingly aggressive ways including cyber-attacks
and espionage, posing a growing threat to Britain and the rest
of Europe, the head of Britain's internal intelligence agency
MI5 has said.
Andrew Parker said Russia had been a covert threat for
decades, but what differed now from the Cold War era was that
there were more and more methods available for it to pursue its
"Russia increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to
the West and seems to act accordingly," he told the Guardian
newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.
"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."
Parker's interview coincided with a British government
announcement on plans to invest an extra 1.9 billion pounds
($2.3 billion) in cyber security defences.
Already strained by the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a
former KGB agent murdered in London in 2006, relations between
Britain and Russia have further deteriorated over Moscow's
actions in Ukraine and Syria.
Parker said the targets of Russia's covert activities in
Britain included military secrets, industrial projects, economic
information and government and foreign policy.
On Islamic extremism, Parker said Britain's security
services had foiled 12 attack plots in the past three years, but
that the threat would endure for at least a generation.
"That sort of tempo of terrorist plots and attempts is
concerning and it's enduring. Attacks in this country are higher
than I have experienced in the rest of my career, and I've been
working at MI5 for 33 years," he said.
"The reality is that because of the investment in services
like mine, the UK has got good defences. My expectation is that
we will find and stop most attempts at terrorism in this
The threat level is officially set at "severe", meaning an
attack is considered highly likely.
Parker broke down the threat into three components:
homegrown extremists numbering about 3,000, Islamic State
militants in Syria and Iraq trying to incite plots against
Britain, and online propaganda by IS and other extremist groups.
He added: "This is something we have to understand: it's
here to stay. It is an enduring threat and it's at least a
generational challenge for us to deal with."
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)