M16 chief breaks si­lence to warn Putin

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD - “We will al­ways work with our sis­ter agen­cies to strengthen our in­dis­pens­able se­cu­rity ties in Europe,” said Younger.

BRI­TAIN’S spy chief warned Vladimir Putin on Mon­day that Lon­don would no longer take the Krem­lin at its word as it fights Rus­sia’s “per­pet­ual con­fronta­tion” with the West.

MI6 for­eign in­tel­li­gence agency head Alex Younger came out of the shad­ows to de­liver only his sec­ond pub­lic ad­dress since as­sum­ing of­fice four years ago – a pe­riod of flar­ing con­flicts with Moscow.

MI6 has pointed the blame for the March poi­son­ing of for­mer dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal in Sal­is­bury on two of­fi­cers with Rus­sia’s GRU mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, an at­tack Younger called a “fla­grant hos­tile act”.

MI6 also ac­cuses the GRU of hack­ing the OPCW chem­i­cal weapons watch­dog in The Hague the fol­low­ing month, in a bid to fig­ure out the course of its probe into the Skri­pal case.

Years of an­i­mos­ity

Skri­pal sur­vived the at­tack and Moscow de­nied in­volve­ment in ei­ther in­ci­dent.

“Mr Skri­pal came to the UK in an Amer­i­can-bro­kered [spy] ex­change, hav­ing been par­doned by the pre­sient of Rus­sia – and to the ex­tent that we as­sumed that had mean­ing,” said Younger.

“That is not an as­sump­tion we will make again.”

Skri­pal was in­cluded in a 2010 spy swap that fol­lowed the dis­cov­ery in the US of a Rus­sian sleeper cell whose mem­bers in­cluded for­mer model Anna Chap­man.

He was par­doned by for­mer pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev in the mid­dle of a four-year span dur­ing which Putin served as prime min­is­ter and Rus­sia’s de facto leader.

Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts think Rus­sia may have tried to kill him due to his al­leged con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion with Euro­pean in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

An­i­mos­ity be­tween Moscow and Lon­don spies stretches back to the Cold War era.

Putin him­self was a in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in the for­mer East Ger­man city of Dres­den in the years lead­ing up to the Soviet Union’s col­lapse.

Yet it is rare for the head of the MI6 to di­rectly con­front Krem­lin lead­ers.

Younger said he was fo­cused on mak­ing sure Rus­sia paid a price for any at­tacks on Bri­tain high enough to ward them off in the fu­ture.

“Our in­ten­tion is for the Rus­sian state to con­clude that, what­ever ben­e­fits it thinks it is ac­cru­ing from this ac­tiv­ity, they are not worth the risk,” he told stu­dents in a talk at the Uni­ver­sity of St An­drews in Scotland

“We will do this in our own way, ac­cord­ing to our laws, and our val­ues,” he said.

“We will be suc­cess­ful nonethe­less, and I urge Rus­sia or any other state in­tent on sub­vert­ing our way of life not to un­der­es­ti­mate our de­ter­mi­na­tion and our ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

He only re­ferred obliquely to the devel­op­ment of a “fourth gen­er­a­tion of es­pi­onage” that worked to counter foes who took ad­van­tage of the “blurred lines” of cy­ber se­cu­rity.

He added that Bri­tain needs to ad­just to a new po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity in which “power, money and pol­i­tics is go­ing east”.

Younger also took pains to dis­miss sug­ges­tions that Bri­tain’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties would weaken once it breaks off from the Euro­pean Union in March.

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