Britain’s Foreign Secretary has warned that the UK must take every possible precaution to protect itself from ‘Russian retaliation’ following the recent US-UK-French airstrikes on Syria.
Boris Johnson made the remarks in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, a day after the US, Britain and France launched a barrage of cruise missiles on three different targets in Syria, claiming it was the right thing to do to deter further use of chemical weapons.
Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are reportedly on standby amid fears that Russia, who is helping the Syrian government in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists, will hit back with a campaign of cyberattacks.
Press TV reports: Johnson accused Russia of having a track record of launching cyberattacks on infrastructure and interfering in the democratic processes of other countries, probably referring to the alleged Russian interference into the 2016 US presidential election.
The US and its allies had been threatening Damascus with military action since April 7, when a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, reportedly killed 60 people and injured hundreds more.
Russia said the chemical attack was staged by desperate militants to provoke further intervention in the conflict by the West.
Moscow had said that threats by the US, France and Britain to launch a military aggression against Syria violate the UN Charter, calling on the West to “seriously consider” the consequences of such intimidation.
But the three countries went ahead with their threats and launched airstrikes against the Syrian government targets on Saturday morning.
Johnson said on Sunday that following the military action in Syria contact between himself and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had gone cold.
Asked about the possibility of “revenge attacks” by Russia against the UK, Johnson said, ”You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed.”
“But I want to stress, we in the UK do not seek an escalation, absolutely not,” he added.