Home News Britain to expel Russian military attache and close some diplomatic missions

Britain to expel Russian military attache and close some diplomatic missions

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Britain’s diplomatic spat with Russia escalated on Wednesday after the British government took action Announce It would expel a senior Russian diplomat whom officials described as an “undeclared” military intelligence officer and close several Russian diplomatic facilities in the country.

The government has accused Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), of carrying out a range of “malign activities” in the UK and Europe, including hacking and leaking US-related trade documents and targeting British lawmakers through malicious email campaigns.

Home Secretary James Cleverly told parliament that the government’s announcement of retaliatory measures was “to signal to Russia that we will not tolerate this clear escalation.”

Britain’s action came two days after Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the British ambassador to Moscow to lodge a “strong protest” against British Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s remarks about Ukraine using British-supplied weapons to attack Russian territory.

The Foreign Office disputed claims that envoy Nigel Casey had been summoned, describing it as a “diplomatic meeting” in which he “reaffirmed the UK’s support for Ukraine in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression” “.

Whatever the diplomatic nuances, it is clear that Britain’s relationship with Russia – already one of the most fragile between Moscow and a NATO member – is sinking into a deeper freeze. The Russian Foreign Ministry vowed to respond “strongly and cautiously”, a statement said.

Maria V. Zakharova, a ministry spokesperson, said: “We consider British claims that our country is suspected of being involved in certain malicious acts to be extremely irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable.”

Cleverley said Britain would expel the diplomat, whose identity he did not reveal, and impose new visa restrictions on Russian diplomats, limiting how long they can stay in the UK. He said Russia was trying to destabilize a British research group focused on combating disinformation.

The UK will also strip Russian-owned properties of their diplomatic status, including west cox heath, a house in East Sussex used by the Russian Embassy as a weekend retreat for its staff, as well as trade and defense offices in Highgate, London. Mr Cleverly said the facilities “have been used for intelligence purposes”.

In addition to his actions in the UK, Cleverly accused Russia of conspiring to sabotage German military aid to Ukraine and conducting espionage operations in Italy and Bulgaria. Its activities include cyber and disinformation campaigns and jamming signals to disrupt civil aviation, he said.

“Since its illegal invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s attempts to undermine British and European security have become increasingly brazen,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.

“These measures send a clear message to the Russian state – their actions will not go unanswered,” he said.

This is the second time this week that the UK has accused hostile foreign actors of a cyber attack.In Tuesday’s first announcement — involving Large-scale payroll data leak The number of British military personnel – it did not name the country behind the attack. Lawmakers are pointing the finger at China.

Asked whether Chinese hackers were responsible, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China was “behaving in a way that is more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad.” He added that the UK faced “an axis of authoritarian states including Russia, Iran, North Korea and China”.

Britain’s tense relationship with Russia goes back decades. But the relationship deepened in 2018 after a former Russian intelligence agent and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury, England. Britain accused Russia of military intelligence and expelled 23 diplomats, saying they were undeclared intelligence officers.

In 2020, a British parliamentary committee concluded that Russia had launched a long-term campaign to undermine British democracy – using tactics such as disinformation, election interference, funneling dirty money and hiring members of the House of Lords. Russia dismissed this conclusion as “Russophobia.”

Britain was one of the first NATO countries to provide weapons to Ukraine as it faced threats from Russian forces in early 2022. A series of British leaders, including Sunak and one of his predecessors, Boris Johnson, have made clear their position as a staunch defender of Ukraine against Russia.

Cameron, who also served as prime minister, lobbied Republicans in Washington to expand U.S. military aid to Ukraine and even visited former President Donald J. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

During a recent visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Cameron said Ukraine had “absolutely the right to strike back against Russia”, including using British weapons, sparking a strong reaction in Moscow. The United States and other arms suppliers generally discourage attacks on Russian territory for fear they could draw the West further into the war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after summoning the British ambassador that Cameron “de facto recognized Russia as a party to the conflict.”

“The ambassador is asked to consider the inevitable and disastrous consequences of such a hostile step by London,” the Foreign Office said.

British suspicion of Russia even extends to the British royal family. British researchers reported that Kremlin-linked disinformation network False reports about the health of Catherine, Princess of Wales, were spread on social media in an effort to stoke division and erode trust in institutions.

Catherine put those rumors to rest when she revealed in March that she had been diagnosed with cancer. But with Britain just months away from an expected general election, researchers and government officials are wary of evidence that Russia is further destabilizing the country.

Anton Troyanovsky Contributed reporting.

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