Britain must accept Russian hacking to influence elections in other countries as a “fact”, according to a government minister.
Sir Alan Duncan, the minister for Europe and the Americas, also condemned the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey as a "heinous attack", saying, "We obviously fully condemn this."
Duncan said there was clear evidence of Russian interference in elections in Eastern Europe, citing recent events in Montenegro in particular.
“I think there’s no doubt that using modern technology they are interfering in many parts of the world,” he said in evidence to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Cyber warfare is part of modern life and Russia is using it as best they can,” he added.
Russia has been accused of hacking electoral systems and media in multiple countries in an attempt to tip results in its favour. Most notably, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has said Russia was behind hacks of the Democratic National Congress aimed at ensuring Hillary Clinton lost the US Presidential election.
Duncan also accused Russia of falsity in its international dealings, but said telling the truth publicly was “one of our main weapons of diplomacy”.
“Some of their public comments stray rather far from the truth,” he said. “There are clear and obvious occasions when people are just not telling the truth and saying that black is white when it isn’t.”
The minister also spoke about security dealings with Russia and beyond after Brexit, saying the UK would continue to associate itself with the EU.
“There would need to be a parallel process that combines and unifies our actions,” he said.
Duncan also tried to send a message to Russia with a more open tone, saying they should trust Britain and not assume nefarious motives behind its actions.
“I think they would benefit from being less suspicious of us,” he said. “They always seem to think that we’re up to something against their interests.”