First, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the parliament earlier in the day that Russian actors "almost certainly" tried to interfere in the country’s 2019 elections through leaking documents on US-UK trade talks. In parallel, the UK National Cyber Security Centre accused Russia-linked cyber actors of attempting to steal data from UK, US and Canadian vaccine researchers. Raab blamed the Russian intelligence services for the attack.
"Neither Russia nor the UK is without blame but we need to get beyond mutual recrimination and try and see each other's point of view," Balfe said.
The lawmaker said he found it "very difficult to understand why the UK government is pursuing its current line regarding Russia."
Balfe added that "to promote cooperation with Russia and hopefully build a better Common European Home" were the priority of his membership of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In response to Raab's statement, the Kremlin rejected any knowledge of cyberattacks on Western vaccine developers and any involvement of Moscow thereof, calling the allegation "unacceptable."
With regard to the allegation on election meddling, Russia has consistently denied any interference in foreign electoral processes, insisting that such claims need factual evidence to be valid, which London has so far failed to provide.