The UK will ensure the world knows the nature of the “reprehensible behaviour” that Russia is engaged in, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
It follows accusations that Russia’s intelligence services tried to steal details of research into coronavirus vaccines.
Russia’s ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin rejected the claims and said there was “no sense” in the allegations made by Britain, the United States and Canada.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Mr Raab said it was “outrageous and reprehensible” that the Russian government is engaged in such activity.
He said: “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.”
Also speaking on the programme, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said that Labour “got it wrong” on Russia, having “prevaricated” after the Salisbury attack in which former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned.
For all the tough talk, the UK has been too slow to respond to the national security threats posed by Russia. If the Foreign Secretary is serious about safeguarding the UK, he must explain why the government has accepted gifts from Vladimir Putinâs state-backed gas company pic.twitter.com/4fLDRzPymb— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) July 19, 2020
Following the May 2018 incident, then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for not condemning Russia more firmly over its actions.
Ms Nandy told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “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 added: “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.”