Don’t underestimate our determination and capabilities, MI6 head warns Russia

The head of MI6 will warn rogue states not to underestimate the UK’s capabilities as he underlines the need for a new era of spying amid emerging threats.

Alex Younger will describe how intelligence agencies are developing a “fourth generation of espionage” as adversaries take advantage of the “blurred lines” between the cyber and physical worlds.

In only his second public speech since becoming “C” four years ago, Mr Younger will warn of threats from enemies who regard themselves as being in a state of “perpetual confrontation” with the UK.

Speaking to students at the University of St Andrews on Monday, he will single out Russia, and is expected to urge them “or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination and our capabilities, or those of our allies”.

Mr Younger, who was educated at the university, will describe how MI6 helped expose the perpetrators said to be behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack, and how it helped coordinate the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

He will also tell students that the UK is “well equipped” to counter those who launch attacks on Britain in ways that fall short of traditional warfare, such as cyber attacks and the spreading of disinformation.

He will say: “The era of the fourth industrial revolution calls for a fourth generation espionage: fusing our traditional human skills with accelerated innovation, new partnerships and a mindset that mobilises diversity and empowers the young.”

The speech will also focus on the strengthening of security ties in Europe ahead of Brexit, and will highlight how working with other intelligence services had disrupted “multiple” planned attacks by Isis overseas.

And in a direct appeal to students, Mr Younger will highlight the need for diversity in MI6.

“I want to speak to young people who have never seen themselves in MI6,” he will say. “… it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want to make a difference and you think you might have what it takes, then the chances are that you do have what it takes, and we hope you will step forward.”

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