British intelligence chief plots moves against Russia for Salisbury poisonings


Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The head of GCHQ promised last night to retaliate against the “brazen Kremlin” for Russia’s nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

Jeremy Fleming said the British government’s cyber intelligence agency would “deploy the full range of tools” to counter the threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Mr Fleming’s intervention – part of a coordinated response to the Novichok attack orchestrated by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency – upped pressure on the Kremlin.

Whitehall sources said Britain had the “offensive cyber capability” to target the GRU and individuals linked to it.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the agency had sent two officers to the UK to carry out the assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal.

Mr Fleming, speaking at a cyber security conference in Washington last night, said: “The threat from Russia is real. It’s active. And it will be countered by a strong international partnership of allies.”

He said GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, was “able to deploy the full range of tools from across our national security apparatus” and added that it was “ready to reject the Kremlin’s brazen determination to undermine the international rules based order”.

Mr Fleming also made official the role played by GCHQ in identifying the two Russian men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and charged in absentia.

The men travelled on false names but it is understood intelligence agencies know their true identities and linked them to the GRU.

Yesterday Mrs May secured the backing of Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in her vow to dismantle the GRU.

The leaders of the US, France and Germany along with Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, issued a joint statement voicing “full confidence” in Britain’s assertion that two agents with the GRU carried out the attack. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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