Rus­sia med­dling but we are watch­ing, says Bri­tain’s May

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTINSIGHT - Pra­sun Son­walkar pra­sun.son­walkar@hin­dus­tan­times.com

LONDON : UK Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May on Mon­day warned Rus­sia that it will not suc­ceed in its al­leged at­tempts to hack western gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, med­dle in elec­tions or what she called “weaponise in­for­ma­tion”.

De­liv­er­ing a ma­jor for­eign pol­icy speech at the London Lord Mayor's an­nual ban­quet, May used un­usu­ally strong lan­guage against Rus­sia even as she dwelt on the chal­lenges caused by Brexit.

She said any ar­range­ment post-brexit will in­clude ef­forts to open economies and free so­ci­eties, de­spite al­leged at­tempts by states such as Rus­sia to un­der­mine them. She claimed Rus­sia’s ac­tions were threat­en­ing the in­ter­na­tional order.

“I want to be clear about the scale and na­ture of these ac­tions. Rus­sia’s il­le­gal an­nex­a­tion of Crimea was the first time since the Sec­ond World War that one sov­er­eign na­tion has forcibly taken ter­ri­tory from an­other in Europe,” she said.

“Since then, Rus­sia has fo­mented con­flict in the Don­bas, re­peat­edly vi­o­lated the na­tional airspace of sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries, and mounted a sus­tained cam­paign of cy­ber es­pi­onage and dis­rup­tion. This has in­cluded med­dling in elec­tions, and hack­ing the Dan­ish min­istry of de­fence and the Bun­destag, among many oth­ers...

“We know what you are do­ing. And you will not suc­ceed. Be­cause you un­der­es­ti­mate the re­silience of our democ­ra­cies, the en­dur­ing at­trac­tion of free and open so­ci­eties, and the com­mit­ment of Western na­tions to the al­liances that bind us.”

Bri­tain, May said, will do what is nec­es­sary to pro­tect it­self, and work with al­lies.

“So we will take the nec­es­sary ac­tions to counter Rus­sian ac­tiv­ity. But this is not where we want to be – and not the re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia we want. We do not want to re­turn to the Cold War, or to be in a state of per­pet­ual con­fronta­tion,” she said.

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