UK PM lashes out at Rus­sia

Herald Sun - - CONFIDENTIAL -

PRIME Min­is­ter Theresa May has ac­cused Rus­sia of spread­ing fake news and in­ter­fer­ing in European elec­tions.

As she vowed Bri­tain would main­tain its com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing Europe af­ter Brexit, Mrs May said Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s regime was try­ing to “sow dis­cord in the West”.

Moscow was “de­ploy­ing its state-run me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions to plant fake sto­ries and pho­to­shopped images in an at­tempt to sow dis­cord in the West and un­der­mine our in­sti­tu­tions”, she said.

In a di­rect mes­sage to the Krem­lin, she warned: “We know what you are do­ing. And you will not suc­ceed.”

She said Rus­sia was wag­ing a “cam­paign of cy­ber es­pi­onage and dis­rup­tion”, in­clud­ing hack­ing the Ger­man par­lia­ment and the Dan­ish de­fence min­istry.

The broad­side — the strong­est from the UK Gov­ern­ment in years — un­der­lines how strained re­la­tions are be­tween the West and Rus­sia.

Mrs May’s tone was in sharp con­trast to that of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who said at the week­end it was “in- sult­ing” to sug­gest the Krem­lin had med­dled in the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Mr Trump even sug­gested the two coun­tries could work to­gether in Syria.

Mrs May ac­cused Rus­sia of fo­ment­ing vi­o­lence in east­ern Ukraine and of re­peat­edly vi­o­lat­ing the national airspace of sev­eral European coun­tries.

She said Bri­tain would con­tinue to pro­vide as­sis­tance to states that were vic­tims of ag­gres­sion.

She also vowed to strengthen cy­ber se­cu­rity and tighten fi­nan­cial rules to stop the “prof­its of cor­rup­tion” ar­riv­ing in Bri­tain from Rus­sia.

Mrs May how­ever did sound a con­cil­ia­tory note, call­ing for on­go­ing en­gage­ment with Moscow.

“We do not want to return to the Cold War, or to be in a state of per­pet­ual con­fronta­tion,” she said, adding there was “an­other way”.

“Many of us here looked at a post-Soviet Rus­sia with hope,” she said.

“Be­cause we know that a strong and pros­per­ous Rus­sia which plays by the rules would be in the in­ter­ests of the United King­dom, Europe and the world.”

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