UK spy chief warns Russia against attacking British way of life

The head of Britain's foreign spy service, Alex Younger, spoke out Monday against adversaries planning to th...

Posted: Dec 3, 2018 2:51 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2018 2:51 PM

The head of Britain's foreign spy service, Alex Younger, spoke out Monday against adversaries planning to threaten British law and values.

Younger, head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) -- better known as MI6 -- addressed students at St. Andrews University, in a speech that mentioned enemies who believe in a "state of perpetual confrontation" with the UK.

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He spoke about the Salisbury chemical weapons attack, for which two Russian nationals were charged, and the work of MI6 in disrupting planned ISIS terror attacks, before urging "Russia or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination and our capabilities, or those of our allies."

Younger's comments follow recent statements from top British security officials condemning Moscow.

Britain's new army chief last month called Russia a "far greater threat" than ISIS. Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff, told The Telegraph that Britain "cannot be complacent about the threat Russia poses."

"The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it," he added.

Younger also emphasized the commitment of MI6 to UK law and values, as well as the evolution of intelligence work as new technologies make for a "blurred line between the cyber and physical worlds."

"The era of the fourth industrial revolution calls for a fourth-generation espionage: fusing our traditional human skills with accelerated innovation, new partnerships and a mindset that mobilizes diversity and empowers the young," he said.

He mentioned the importance of strategic alliances in disrupting terrorist threats and underlined the commitment of MI6 to strengthening security ties in Europe, before encouraging young people from diverse backgrounds to join the service.

"I want to speak to young people who have never seen themselves in MI6 ... it doesn't matter where you are from," he said.

"If you want to make a difference and you think you might have what it takes, then the chances are that you do have what it takes, and we hope you will step forward."

Younger, who is known as C, has only made one other public speech in his four years as head of the SIS.

In December 2016, he spoke out on Russia's role in the Syrian conflict, which he called an "unfolding tragedy."

"I believe the Russian conduct in Syria, allied with that of (Bashar al-Assad's) discredited regime, will, if they do not change course, provide a tragic example of the perils of forfeiting legitimacy," he said.

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