Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the UK will make sure the world knows the nature of the “reprehensible behaviour” that Russia is engaged after accusing the country of recently been accused of targeting UK coronavirus vaccine researchers
Russia is also alleged to have attempted to influence the UK's General Election and interfering in the Brexit referendum.
The long-awaited Russia Report is set to be published next week, almost nine months after the prime minister is believed to have received it.
Mr Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme: “We’re absolutely confident that the Russian intelligence agencies were engaged in a cyber attack on research and development efforts and organisations in this country and internationally with a view either to sabotage or to profit from the R&D that was taking place.
“And I think the point is first of all we’ve seen this as part of a wider systematic approach to cyber taken by Russia and at the time that the world is coming together to try and tackle Covid-19, particularly come up with a global solution for a vaccine, I think it’s outrageous and reprehensible that the Russian Government is engaged in this activity.
“So what we’re doing with our allies is making sure people know, making sure the organisations know so that they can better defend against it, but also just calling Russia out, we will do this.
“Now you will see us holding Russia to account and making sure that the world knows the nature of the reprehensible behaviour that they’re engaged in.”
Mr Raab added: “As a leading member of the international community, a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia should be engaged in that collaborative international effort.”
In an interview with BBC One’s The Andrew Marr show the Russian ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin said his country had no interest in interfering in British domestic politics.
Specifically, Mr Kelin moved to deny any involvement in hacking of information relating to coronavirus vaccine research.
“I don’t believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it,” Mr Kelin said.
“I learned about their (the hackers) existence from British media. In this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible.”
Completed more than a year ago, the Russia Report has gone through a series of redactions – as is procedure – to remove sensitive information from the public’s view.
Despite promises to publish it after the December general election, the findings from the Intelligence and Scrutiny Committee (ISC) will be released just before Parliament’s summer recess.
The investigation into the country was launched after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said that Labour “got it wrong” on Russia, having “prevaricated” following the attack on Salisbury.
She told Sophy Ridge: “I think we got it wrong on Russia and I made a feature of this during the Labour leadership campaign because I felt that it really needed to be said.
“When the Salisbury attacks happened, we prevaricated, we equivocated, we called for dialogue at a moment when chemical weapons had been used on the streets of the UK.
“And what that did was not only to let an authoritarian regime that has invaded its neighbours, that has interfered in elections across European democratic countries over several years, that has had an appalling record of human rights against its own people, against LGBT people, Muslims and other minorities, and used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK, we didn’t just let them off the hook, we also let the Conservative Government off the hook.
“Because I believe the Conservatives have been desperately slow to wake up to the threat that is posed by the current Putin administration and we should have been much quicker to act in relation to that.”
Ms Nandy said: “By prevaricating about issues like Salisbury, we let the Tories off the hook. I strongly believe that that has to change and that we have to have a much more strategic approach to Russia.”