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The Russia connectionPutin’s doctrine blends “bare-face lying,” “social media disinformation,” and “criminal thuggery”: MI5 Director

Published 17 May 2018

In a speech on Wednesday, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker discussed the security challenges the West is facing, chief among them the threat from Russia. Parker said the threat from Russia is a “hybrid threat,” as Russia is a practitioner of a doctrine “blending media manipulation, social media disinformation and distortion with new and old forms of espionage, high levels of cyberattacks, military force, and criminal thuggery.” Parker added: “Our democracies, our societies and our bonds of partnership are strong. But we must not be complacent about the longer-term potential impact of this [Russian] activity on the international rules-based order that supports our security and prosperity.”

MI5 Director General Andrew Parker gave a speech to the Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) Symposium in Berlin on 14 May 2018. Parker discussed the security challenges the West is facing, chief among them the threat from Russia. “The Russian state’s now well-practiced doctrine of blending media manipulation, social media disinformation and distortion with new and old forms of espionage, high levels of cyberattacks, military force, and criminal thuggery is what is meant these days by the label ‘hybrid threats’,” he said.

Here is the first part of Parker’s speech:

Introduction

Good morning.

….

Today I want to offer my reflections on the shared hybrid threats that European nations face from hostile activity by states but also from international terrorism. I also want to talk about how a joined-up European security response is critical to tackling these threats, and I want to give a flavor of what this response looks like today – I believe the phrase in German is “Zusammenarbeit.” Delivering success together where delivering it alone is simply not possible.

The threat

Hostile activity by states

So, first, the current threat landscape. We are living in a period where Europe faces sustained hostile activity from certain states. Let me be clear, by this I don’t just mean spies spying on spies; spies following each other round at the dead of night. I mean deliberate and targeted malign activity intended to undermine our free, open and democratic societies; to destabilize the international rules-based system that underpins our stability, security and prosperity.

Chief protagonist among these hostile actors is the Russian Government. Notice I don’t say Russia. The United Kingdom has the utmost admiration and respect for the people of Russia; for their proud culture and long history. I myself studied the Russian language at school. We have no desire to escalate tensions, or to go back to the tense and dangerous times that Europe lived through during the Cold War – Berlin more than most cities knows what that felt like.

One of the Kremlin’s central and entirely admirable aims is to build Russian greatness on the world stage. There are ways open for it to do so as part of the rules-based order. But its repeated choices have been to pursue that aim through aggressive and pernicious actions by its military and intelligence services. Instead of becoming a respected great nation it risks becoming a more isolated pariah.