Russia has hit back at “sensationalist” and “mind-boggling” suggestions that it could cut undersea communications cables to the UK.
The head of the UK’s military said protection of the communications lines was a priority for Britain and its Nato allies in the face of Russia’s naval modernisation.
But a statement posted on the Russian Embassy in London’s website hinted that Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach’s comments may have been motivated more by concerns about the defence budget than fears of sabotage directed from Moscow.
His comments came weeks after Theresa May used her address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London to warn that Russia had “mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption” against other countries.
The Russian Embassy’s response said: “Such sensationalist statements can cause regret, as they are fanning the flames for the unwholesome sentiment created by PM Theresa May’s banquet speech.
“Instead of discussing European security, an important issue for all the European nations including UK, London keeps speculating on numerous mind-boggling scenarios of a hypothetical conflict.
“The reasons look obvious - but even if the UK military needs money so badly, why intimidate people this much?”
In a lecture on Thursday, Sir Stuart said: “In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy, both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships, we along with our Atlantic allies have prioritised missions and tasks to protect the sea lines of communication.”
He warned: “Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living if they were disrupted?”