19:33 GMT +319 December 2018
Listen Live
    A general view shows the MI6 building in London, Thursday, March 5, 2015.

    ‘Both MI5 and MI6 Have Taken a Bit of a Hit This Year’ – Former Diplomat

    © AP Photo / Matt Dunham
    Opinion
    Get short URL
    331

    MI6 Chief Alex Younger is expected to deliver a message to Russia during a speech at St Andrew’s University in Scotland that Moscow should not underestimate the UK’s ability to retaliate in the wake of the Salisbury incident.

    According to reports, Younger is expected to stress the importance of keeping strong security ties with the European Union in light of Brexit and to explain why London is developing fourth generation espionage techniques.

    Radio Sputnik has discussed this with Tony Kevin, former Australian diplomat and author of the book "Return to Moscow".

    Sputnik: What is your take on this MI6 warning to Russia?

    Tony Kevin: Well, it is the counterpart to a speech in May by the counter-intelligence chief of MI5 Andrew Parker. So now, we have MI6, the intelligence agency making its contribution. I think they are both essentially morale-boosting exercises. Both MI5 and MI6 have taken a bit of a hit this year.

    A lot of intelligent British people and friendly people around the world have looked on with some amusement at the antics these agencies have been going to, to paint a picture of Russia as a malignant country and in particular in relation of the Skripal affair. There is a great deal of scepticism and derision around and I think they are trying to really improve their own internal morale and bolster their image. Frankly, I don't attach huge importance to outer speech.

    Sputnik: Do you think there is a link between this and Brexit?

    Tony Kevin: In some way, yes there is, although I wouldn't overstate it. The thing is that intelligence cooperation operates independently of economic and political structures, like the EU. If Brexit happens, there seems to be a little bit of doubt creeping in now as to whether it will happen, the British are certainly keen that they will continue to have very close and intimate intelligence relationships with continental European countries.

    READ MORE: UK's MI6 Chief to Urge Russia 'Not to Underestimate Our Determination'

    Sputnik: What can you say about the G20 summit? It seemed that Vladimir Putin attempted to sort of thaw the relations between London and Moscow. Do you think he was at all successful and will this speech affect that attempt in any way?

    Tony Kevin: The messages said Vladimir Putin, I read his press conference, that he conveyed to both London and Washington were very unambiguous. He said: "Look, you know we need to start talking again. We have a common interest in dialogue and we are ready to talk as soon as you are". I don't read that as really a plea to thaw said relations. I think he is simply saying "we are ready to talk when you are".

    So, he is a man who carries enormous dignity and the power of the Russian state behind him. I admire his forbearance and his patience because he puts up with endless rudeness and endless crudeness by people like Trump and May. And yet he doesn't let it get to him, he just keeps on like a battlecruiser steaming through the ocean and not letting himself be too bothered by the little ships pecking at his heels.

    Sputnik: What would you say about the status of the relationship between Russia and the West post the G20 summit? Do you think that there was any movement in any way?

    Tony Kevin: No, I don't. I think Trump has been seen to be hemmed in by his Russophobic senior advisors and I mean in particular people like Bolton and Pompeo to a lesser extent Haley. And they have his measure: they know that he is really frightened to step out of line now. He is worried about the Mueller investigation obviously. He just really is not any kind of an asset to Russia at this point. But whether he could ever become one in the future, I don't know.

    READ MORE: US to Lead 'Restoration of Liberal Order Among Nations' — Pompeo

    Sputnik: So now let's talk about Younger and that speech again. He is also calling for or he is stressing that it is very important that the EU continues to cooperate with the UK and vice versa post Brexit if we actually do see a Brexit happening. What are your thoughts on the possibilities for that kind of cooperation and with the way that Brexit has been progressing?

    Tony Kevin: This kind of cooperation goes on anyway. It depends on intangibles. It depends on how much respect European continental intelligence agencies will have for British intelligence agencies. Do they think that Britain handled the Skripal affair well or badly? They won't, of course, say it in public if they think that Britain handled it badly but what are their private judgements of it? I mean, I would think there are so many holes in the way the British have handled the Skripal affair that if I were a French or a German intelligence chief I would be asking very serious questions.

    Sputnik: Can you elaborate on what problems you have with the way that the British have handled the Skripal affair?

    Tony Kevin: Probably, side with much of what the Anonymous group has been saying, in fact, I might even go further. I would say that the Skripals were never poisoned with a Novichok-type agent. If they had been, they would be dead. I think that some agency, I don't know where from but not Russian, used a non-lethal nerve agent to make it look as though the Skripals had been poisoned with something like Novichok and to create an incident, a provocation built around that lie.

    The fact of the statement that Mr Lavrov made in Moscow in March of revealing the findings, the complete findings of one of the OPCW chemical labs in Switzerland; the Spiez lab at Spiez, which found not only the presence of BZ in the samples but also the presence of two successive doses of A234 Novichok-type agent. Somebody wanted the OPCW to find a Novichok-type agent in the sample.

    READ MORE: Russia Disagrees With Decision to Increase OPCW Budget — Delegation Head

    Sputnik: I don't know it seems that the international group Anonymous said that the media information on Russia meddling in a number of events including the Salisbury incident was fake. Do you agree with [that]? I mean have they really provided any proof of that though?

    Tony Kevin: Yes, yes, precisely. You see this is a problem. You have got the British system relying on its presumption of regularity. And how do you disprove a lie? It is quite hard to disprove a lie when enough people are promulgating the lie, when enough media organisations, like The Guardian, constantly reiterate it in different ways. The lie establishes a certain credibility through constant repetition by different people in different ways. And so it is a very difficult thing to do, to combat a false narrative. The British have been very good at this. They have been doing it for centuries.

    Views and opinions expressed in the article are those of Tony Kevin and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

    UK's MI6 Chief to Urge Russia 'Not to Underestimate Our Determination'
    After Years of Propaganda, 'MI6 Tool' Luke Harding May Finally Have Gone Too Far
    MI5 Made Mistakes Ahead of Manchester Bombing - Report
    Scholar on MI5 Extremists Monitoring Decision: 'It Makes Perfect Sense'
    Ex-MI5 Officer Sheds Light on 'Narrative' Behind Book on Skripal
    Tags:
    Brexit, Skripal case, MI5, MI6, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Theresa May, United Kingdom, Russia
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik