Putin warning as MI6 chief hits out at leader’s regime

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The Russian president stressed that Richard Moore is new to the role and that the spy chief would “revisit his assessments”. Mr Moore, who became MI6’s “C” in October, described Russia as an “objectively declining power economically and demographically” as he struck out against the Kremlin’s actions. Asked about the remarks on Friday, Putin said: “You said the new head of MI6 has given these assessments, so he is new and I think he is going to get some experience and will probably revisit his assessments [on] if Russia is a declining power. 

“So why bother, why be concerned? Just live your life and don’t try to spoil the Russian-British relations further.”

Speaking via video link from St Petersburg, Putin said the UK and Russia had seen a growth in trade last year, adding: “So if you don’t try to interfere into this process then everything is going to be good.” In April, Mr Moore, 58, spoke of his continued anger about the novichok attack in Salisbury, in which two alleged Russian operatives targeted Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy turned double agent for MI6.

And the spy chief highlighted allegations that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, was behind a blast at a Czech arms factory in 2014, killing two.

Mr Moore said: “When you get that pattern of reckless behaviour, of course you then look at what is happening around Ukraine and of course it worries us.

“It is why we have co-­ordinated so closely with our allies to make sure we are getting firm messages back to President Putin.”

Mr Moore also told Times Radio that the regime is under pressure as Russia declines. 

“Russia is an objectively declining power economically and demographically,” he said.

“It is an extremely challenged place. And clearly the treatment of Alexei Navalny, as we saw with the thousands of protesters on the streets of a number of cities, shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr Putin.”

Relations between Moscow and London have been strained since the nerve agent attack on British soil in 2018.

Mr Skripal and his daughter survived but it killed 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and left her partner seriously ill.

Accusing Russia of being a “hostile” state, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has recently led a push for Nato to use political pressure to combat the threat from Moscow.

Mr Raab has also said it is “very difficult to believe” the arrest of a critic of the Belarus regime from a diverted Ryanair flight last month could have taken place “without at least the acquiescence of the authorities in Moscow”.

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