05/04/22

More terror police brought in to tackle Putin threat in wake of Ukraine war

Counter-terrorism police are boosting their capacity to tackle threats from Russia and other hostile states in the wake of the Ukraine war.

The number of officers focusing on the potential danger posed by Vladimir Putin’s agents was already being increased following the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury in 2018 of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

But Met assistant commissioner Matt Jukes, the national head of counter-terrorism police, on Thursday disclosed that further resources will be ploughed into combating the hostile state threat, including from Russia, because of the increasing danger posed by agents of rogue overseas powers.

Thursday’s warning about the potential risk posed by Russian activity in this country came as Mr Jukes also appealed for evidence about war crimes carried about by Putin’s forces in Ukraine.

Counter-terrorism policing includes a specialist war crimes unit and wants Ukrainian refugees arriving in this country to come forward if they can provide testimony about atrocities.

Any material gathered will be investigated and, if judged prosecutable, passed to the International Criminal Court to help it in its investigations into the conflict.

Mr Jukes’s remarks came during a Scotland Yard briefing on the overall terror threat facing this country as it approaches the fifth anniversary of the 2017 attacks at Westminster, the Manchester Arena and London Bridge.

He said today’s most concerning trends included the rising risk posed by “self-initiated” lone wolf attackers, as well as the growth of the extreme right and the number of young people, including children, being arrested.

But with attention continuing to focus on Ukraine, today’s alert about the Russian threat is likely to attract most interest. It follows the Government’s decision this week to impose sanctions on 370 more Russians over their links to Putin’s regime.

The latest action came after the earlier sanctioning of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and means that a number of oligarchs with homes in the capital, including the billionaire Mikhail Fridman, have had their assets frozen.

Ministers have previously warned that as well as Russia, Britain faces threats from North Korea and Iran. Concern about hostile state activity from China has also been heightening and led to an unprecedented recent warning from MI5 to MPs about one alleged agent, Christine Lee, with links to parliamentarians.


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