Europe

'UK carried out covert attacks against Russia'

UK seeks to impose price greater than one might have expected, says former top official

Karim El-Bar   | 24.10.2020
'UK carried out covert attacks against Russia'

LONDON

The UK carried out a series of covert attacks on Russia’s leaders and allies, according to a former top official.

Britain responded to Russian aggression, including by using offensive cyber-capabilities, Mark Sedwill, the former cabinet secretary, told Times Radio on Saturday.

Sedwill was the UK’s top civil servant and national security advisor until his resignation last month.

“Russia is operating in what the aficionados call gray space, that gap between normal state relations and armed conflict, with cyberattacks, information warfare, and disruption campaigns,” he said.

“It is important that we are capable of maneuvering in the gray space and doing so effectively. We can’t leave the initiative to our adversaries. There are vulnerabilities that we can exploit too. We just don’t always talk about them.”

One method was by taking action against “illicit” money coming out of Russia, he said.

The 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury was one event after which the UK government took action.

“We seek to impose a price greater than one they might have expected, when we believe it is right and necessary,” said Sedwill.

“It does break through from time to time. After the Salisbury attack, the first use of chemical weapons against a country in Europe in a century, we retaliated in visible ways. We expelled the entire Russian intelligence network in the UK.

“But we also took a series of other discreet measures, including measures tackling some of the illicit money that flows out of Russia, and covert measures, which obviously I can’t talk about as well.”

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