Britain will deploy all capabilities to defeat enemies: PM May

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May will warn those “who seek to attack us” that Britain will deploy all its capabilities to defeat them, in a national security review to be published on Wednesday addressing new, modern-world threats.

Coming just days after Britain moved quickly to blame a nerve-agent attack against a former Russia spy on Moscow, the review says London must use its soft power and communications resources to combat new hybrid warfare.

It will say the threat from Islamist attacks is expected to remain high for at least the next two years and may increase, and cover wider challenges from states, such as Russia, North Korea and Iran.

May, a former interior minister, says in the foreword of the report that Britain has seen attacks in London and Manchester, and the “attempted murder” in Salisbury.

“Crucially what all of these incidents have made clear is that our national security is conditional ... on our ability to mobilize most effectively the full range of our capabilities in concert to respond to the challenges we face,” she wrote, according to excerpts provided by her office.

She said Britain would now not only use the police, security services and army, but also measures ranging “from economic levers, through cutting-edge military resources to our wider diplomatic and cultural influence on the world’s stage”.

“As long as we defend our interests and stand up for our values, there will continue to be those who seek to undermine or attack us. But these people should be in no doubt that we will use every capability at our disposal to defeat them.”

Britain suffered five attacks in 2017 which the authorities described as terrorism, and police said they had thwarted another 14 since March last year.

Since being appointed prime minister in 2016, May’s government has begun a review of Britain’s national security capabilities to look at the changing nature of threats and into everything from counter-terrorism to combating organized crime.

The Salisbury attack, which left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a critical condition, has made the report even more timely, a senior British official said, especially by underlining the importance of communications and soft power.

Shortly after London blamed Moscow, Russia started spreading different explanations for the attack, “disinformation” designed “to confuse the charge sheet, if you like, against Russia that the prime minister set out quite clearly”, the official said.

The official said that countering that narrative in public and diplomatically to convince other nations that there was no other plausible narrative had helped seal the “only collective expulsion of intelligence officers and other covert networks under diplomatic cover” from more than 20 countries.

Combined with sharing intelligence with other nations and multi-national bodies, the new approach taken by Britain had brought swift results to punish Moscow, the official said.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison