Andrew Parker, the head of the UK’s MI5, which is the United Kingdom’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency, did not mince words when characterizing Russia’s behavior in recent months. In an address delivered before an international audience of security chiefs gathered in Berlin, he drew little differentiation between the threats posed by Russia and those posed by extremist groups like the Islamic State within Britain’s borders. Parker said,

The reckless attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, using a highly lethal nerve agent, put numerous lives at risk, including that of his daughter. It was only through near-miraculous medical intervention that his and his daughter’s lives were saved, and wider preventive action was able to be taken.”

That alleged nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England was not the only element of Russia’s foreign policy efforts Parker took direct issue with in his address. He went on to levy his concerns about the ways in which Russia has streamlined its disinformation efforts to help bolster their denials of aggressive acts that Parker deemed to be “flagrant breaches of international rules”.

The Russian state’s now well-practised doctrine of blending media manipulation, social media disinformation and distortion, along with new and old forms of espionage and high-levels of cyber attacks, military force and criminal thuggery is what is meant these days by the term ‘hybrid threats’.”