Instead of developing a dialogue with Moscow, London is currently picking a fight with Russia, director of the External Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin said in an interview with the BBC. At the same time, he noted that Moscow could not find any rational explanation to London's moves of the kind.
In the same interview, Naryshkin said he entered into correspondence with head of Britain's MI6 Richard Moore. As a result of this correspondence, he hopes for personal contact with his British counterpart. And this fact is very remarkable, since the opposing countries' heads of intelligence rarely contact with each other on a direct basis. But, as practice shows, such relations benefit only those states whose intelligence chiefs do have personal contacts established.
By the way, Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov spoke about this just the other day. Commenting upon the statements by Sergei Naryshkin, who said about entering into correspondence with MI6 head Richard Moore, he stressed that the need for communication between intelligence service leaderships of both Russia and the UK is brought about by common sense.
"It is absolutely normal practice to communicate with leaders of such sensitive departments. This communication invariably meets the interests of our two countries," Peskov said. According to him, this communication was once interrupted (not at Russia's initiative) but would be still in demand with both sides. The Kremlin spokesman stated that common sense speaks well for such contacts.
In an interview with the BBC, Naryshkin also noted that avoiding mutual unsubstantiated accusations would help improve relations between the two countries. Which London is particularly distinguished by, be it noted. "It's not our choice. We believe that cooperation between our countries in the interests of stability and international security is absolutely necessary," External Intelligence Service director stressed.
In the meantime, the sides cannot escape confrontation. Unfortunately, official London often throws the book at Moscow. In November 2006, Britain accused Russia of poisoning former FSB Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, and in March 2018, a similar accusation was made against Moscow over an incident involving ex-GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
And most recently, addressing a conference at the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) on May 12, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Russia of cyber attacks and of harboring criminals. Mind you, London failed to substantiate the accusations. According to Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesperson Maria Zakharova, the purpose of these accusations is obvious – an everlasting reason to impose sanctions or restrictions, demonize and thus restrain Russia.
Scaring the British people with an alleged "Russian threat", London establishes various structures to counteract "Kremlin's scheming". For instance, it became known in March this year that Britain will create an anti-Russian special forces unit "to combat Russian influence." The new unit will presumably cooperate with MI6 intelligence in executing covert operations "to monitor Russian spies and military units."
The latter apparently keeps the British authorities up at night. In particular, according to former MI6 chief John Sawers, Western law enforcement officers have disclosed only a tenth of Russian espionage attacks in Europe. "We see the scale of Russian special services' aggressive activities throughout Europe. We are probably aware of a mere 10% of what they do. The special services will do lots of things we just don't know," Sawers stated.
By the way, in his response to MI6 ex-chief's statement, Sergei Naryshkin said the following in his above-mentioned interview with the BBC: "The United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and China are very strong sovereign independent countries. Any truly sovereign and strong countries must have a strong intelligence service." According to Naryshkin, all the countries listed do have such an intelligence.
Moreover, the External Intelligence Service head noted that London, while accusing other countries of "violating democracy", does not simultaneously condemn contravention of fundamental democracy principles, particularly the freedom of speech, that took place in the last US presidential election, when President Donald Trump was literally "thrown out" of social networks. "Well, where is freedom of speech? Where is democracy? Why are you not outraged by this, please tell me. And I know why: it’s all odious Euro-Atlantic solidarity," Naryshkin stated in an interview with the BBC.
Here we cannot fail to mention another point in Russian-British relations. Not so long ago, MI6 head Richard Moore called Russia "objectively weakening" economically and demographically, but at the same time representing one of the most urgent challenges. In an interview with RIA Novosti, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to that statement, calling it an indicator of "inborn arrogance".
"Getting back to the UK. Yes, we do see them keep pursuing the anti-Russian policy. Recently, their foreign intelligence service chief has stated Russia is an objectively declining power, which makes it necessary to keep an eye on it as the one able to make some abrupt movements. This is an inborn arrogance and an inborn belief that you are still ruling the world," the Russian Foreign Minister said.
Apparently, it is from the position of "inborn arrogance" that Britain is building its present-day relations with Russia...