Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Alex Younger, head of the UK's foreign intelligence service, MI6, commented on a number of security issues, focusing primarily on the alleged Russian threat to the Western world and the resurgence of terrorists in Syria's Idlib province, which currently remains out of the Syrian government's control.
Known informally as "C," or "Chief" of the service, Younger confirmed he has no idea why Russia would do all the things it has been recently accused of doing. While not contradicting directly the usual narrative of Russia being behind everything, he failed to provide a coherent alleged motive.
"We need to ask ourselves why Russia is behaving in this way," said Younger. "And in truth, I do not know."
Last year, after the former Russian intelligence officer and defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in a park in Salisbury, Russian envoy to the United Nations Vasiliy Nebenzia said Russia had no interest in poisoning an arrested, convicted, imprisoned and subsequently released former agent.
Speaking before the UN Security Council on 14 March, 2018, Nebenzia said that Skripal was "a perfect candidate for a role of a victim," whom "any unthinkable lie and dirt" could be applied to in order to generate "black PR towards Russia."
"How, do you think, does this incident benefit Russia before the presidential elections and the World Cup?" Nebenzia asked the Security Council at the time. "But I do know a whole number of countries that will find this incident and allegations against Russia incredibly beneficial and timely."
"I have the highest respect for Bellingcat's capabilities," he answered a journalist's question. "I think that Russia has been widely involved across Europe in particular over a number of years… You can see that there is a concerted program of activity, and yes, it does often involve the same people."
Younger also warned journalists that the largely defeated al-Qaeda is supposedly growing again in the regions of Syria outside of Damascus' control — in Idlib specifically — adding that, as Daesh loses its status as a "quasi-state," it is morphing into a "more traditional, asymmetric threat."
He acknowledged that al-Qaeda in Syria's forces in Idlib have many Europeans among their ranks, without commenting on the number of UK citizens there.
Idlib is getting "increasingly radicalized, and so there certainly exist people who we are very concerned about," he said.