Nearly a year-and-a-half after it was completed, the Russia report was finally published by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.
The report on Russian interference in the UK was finally published, after many months of delay. It was a hard blow. It showed not only how Russian cyber attacks are an imminent threat, but also that the UK was too slow to react.
Russia report and the immediate and urgent threat
The Russia report was written by members of the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. It is the result of an eight-month investigation into Russia’s influence in UK politics and public life.
Within it was written that Russia is a highly capable cyber actor who considers the UK one of its main Western intelligence targets. The Intelligence and Security Committee concluded the report saying that Russian influence in the UK is for them “the new normal“.
However, the Russia report shows that the UK has taken its “eye out of the ball” in relation to Russia’s attempts to meddle in British politics. British security services have not given enough priority to Russia’s attempts to gain influence in the UK. Stewart Hosie, a member of the ISC, said that the secret services “avoided asking questions” about Russian interference. Kevan Jones added: “No one in the government tried to look at or ask questions that needed to be asked.”
Russian interference in UK policy
This report appears as an overwhelming attack that accuses the British government of underestimating the Russian threat. UK did not seek sufficient evidence of Russian influence over the Brexit vote.
The report reveals that initially the MI5 wrote only six lines of text when a declaration has been requested for a statement on any Russian attempt to influence the vote on Brexit. The ISC, which has not yet received any post-brexit assessment of Russian interference attempts, has called for a formal assessment of the potential interference.
The report said: “Russia’s computer capability, when combined with its willingness to distribute it in a harmful capacity, is a matter of grave concern, and represents an immediate and urgent threat to our national security.” However, it added: “Written evidence provided to us seemed to suggest that the government had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in democratic processes in the UK, or any activity that had a material impact on an election.”
According to Boris Johnson, the British Government was only too late to notice the threat posed by Russia. But he is now accused of blocking publication ahead of last year’s general election, in which his Conservative Party won a landslide victory.