Defence secretary Gavin Williamson believes Russia will do anything to cause pain to the UK, and may attack energy lines & infrastructure firms critical to the UK’s survival.
Russia has laughed off Williamson’s assertions, stating that his words sound like straight out of a children’s comic book or an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, the Defence Secretary warned that the real threat faced by the UK came from Russia since the latter was spying on the UK’s energy lines. If Russia attacked any energy line, it could result in ‘total chaos’ in the UK.
‘The plan for the Russians won’t be for landing craft to appear in the South Bay in Scarborough, and off Brighton beach. They are going to be thinking, ‘how can we just cause so much pain to Britain?
‘Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths, but actually have an element of creating total chaos within the country,’ Williamson warned.
According to the BBC, the UK relies on four undersea electricity cables linking it to the continent as well as four gas pipelines. Any damage to any of these cables or pipelines could seriously disrupt people’s lives for long periods.
Responding to Williamson’s allegations, Ministry Major-General Igor Konashenkov, who is an official representative of the Russian defence, said that Williamson ‘lost his understanding of where the limits of common sense lie long ago’. He added that Williamson’s words sound like straight out of a children’s comic book or an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Even though Williamson sounds like an alarmist now considering that if Russia does indeed attack Britain’s electricity and gas lifelines, it would immediately be seen as an act of war not only by Britain but by NATO as a whole.
However, government ministers and those charged with the cyber security of the UK’s digital environment have often talked about Russia’s involvement in a series of cyber-attacks that took place in the recent past. In December, the National Cyber Security Centre also warned all government departments against using Kaspersky Lab products due to the company’s Russian origin.
In a letter to government agencies, Ciaran Martin, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre, warned that dealing with ‘a Russia-based AV company’ would put national security at risk.
‘The NCSC advises that Russia is a highly capable cyber threat actor which uses cyber as a tool of statecraft. This includes espionage, disruption and influence operations. Russia has the intent to target UK central government and the UK’s critical national infrastructure,’ he said.
Earlier this week, Martin renewed his verbal offensive on Russia’s poorly-concealed cyber operations, stating that it is only a matter of time before a catastrophic cyber-attack is launched on its critical infrastructure or election setup.
I think it is a matter of when, not if and we will be fortunate to come to the end of the decade without having to trigger a category one attack,’ he said.
Martin also gave an indication that several category one attacks could be launched on British elections or critical infrastructure targets in the coming years, adding that since all cyber-attacks simply cannot be stopped, the UK should concentrate on reducing the after-effects of such an attack.
‘Most comparable western countries have experienced what we would consider a category one attack so we have been fortunate in avoiding that to date,’ he added.