Don’t underestimate our determination and capabilities, MI6 head warns Russia

MI6 chief Alex Younger

Alex Younger, will deliver a rare public speech on Monday, during which he will reiterate a batch of London's accusations against Russian Federation and urge it not to "underestimate" the United Kingdom and its allies, according to excerpts of his speech in the UK media.

Earlier this year, Jeremy Fleming, head of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spy agency accused Russian Federation of "not playing to the same rules" and blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity.

Younger's agency has pinpointed the blame for the March poisoning with a nerve agent in England of former double agent Sergei Skripal on two officers with Russia's GRU military intelligence service.

Making only his second public speech as head of MI6, which he's led for four years, Younger highlighted how the United Kingdom faces adversaries who regard themselves as being in a state of perpetual confrontation, using a "hybrid" mix of traditional spy-craft and modern cyber-based approaches, such as Twitter bots and the spread of fake news online in order to "exploit ambiguity".

Mr Younger described how MI6 helped expose the perpetrators said to be behind the attack, and how it helped co-ordinate the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

The UK had identified the nerve agent used in the attack as Novichok, which was developed by the Soviet military during the 1970s and 1980s.

The speech, to students at his old university of St Andrews in Scotland, is only the second in public in the four years since Younger has been "C".

"I should emphasise that even as the Russian state seeks to destabilise us, we do not seek to destabilise Russia".

Younger said he had been struck by President Xi Jinping's "made in China" ambitions and that Beijing could within decades dominate all of the key emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics.

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"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".

"When faced by these kinds of attacks, our approach with our allies is to seek to attach a cost to this behaviour", Younger said.

Younger, 55, also said that Britain's spies have thwarted multiple Islamic State plots originating overseas.

He added that relationships with European Union agencies will carry on despite Brexit, emphasizing how Britain has helped France and Germany counter terrorism.

"Fusing our traditional human skills with accelerated innovation, new partnerships and a mindset that mobilises diversity and empowers the young".

MI6 chief Alex Younger speaks at MI6's Vauxhall Cross headquarters in central London, in this still image from video, Britain December 8, 2016.

The chief of British foreign intelligence agency MI6 is set to deliver a speech warning Russian Federation not to underestimate the UK's "capabilities" and "determination".

Asked what steps, if any, the intelligence services should take against the likes of the Kremlin propaganda broadcaster, Sputnik, or social media disinformation campaigns, he replied: "I don't think we should do anything".

And in a direct appeal to students, Mr Younger will highlight the need for diversity in MI6.

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