UK security services on alert for Russia 'targeting power stations and ministers'

1 May 2022, 07:34 | Updated: 1 May 2022, 07:41

Russia could strike at Britain over its support for Ukraine
Russia could strike at Britain over its support for Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

British security services are on alert over whether Russia will take aim at the UK for its support of Ukraine.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Vladimir Putin's saboteurs could target key infrastructure or attempt to throw the Government into disarray.

MI5 has briefed Priti Patel about the threat while Boris Johnson and Steve Barclay, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, have been kept in the loop.

The news follows a ramping up of rhetoric by Russia against the UK, which has been one of Ukraine's strongest supporters in its fight against the invasion.

Russia has threatened to strike Nato countries that back Ukraine on their own territory and flaunted their new Satan-2 missile as they try to bully Western countries into abandoning Kyiv and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

They were furious when the UK armed forces minister James Heappey said he would back Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, after a series of strategic locations there were targeted.

Priti Patel has been briefed on the Russian threat
Priti Patel has been briefed on the Russian threat. Picture: Alamy

But those threats from the Kremlin have fallen on deaf ears and Britain and its allies continue to ship weapons for Ukraine's military as it fights off Russia in the eastern Donbas region and the south.

A security source told the Sunday Express: "There is a serious concern that officers or agents attached to Russia's security services may attempt to enter the UK and target strategic locations.

"We are well aware of their capabilities and have seen how Putin is using these agencies in Eastern Europe."

Read more: Two British aid workers captured by Russians while trying to rescue Ukrainian family

Ed Johnson, from the Sibylline strategic risk group, said Russia could launch cyber attacks, support groups that want to split up the UK, and target ministers and officials, possibly by releasing "embarrassing" documents.

Dr Taras Kuzio, from the think tank the Henry Jackson Society, warned power stations could be targeted and Russia could try to "humiliate" the Government, with the UK top of Moscow's hit list because of its staunch support for Ukraine.

Russia's bloody invasion continues but its forces, now concentrated in the east and south of Ukraine after being humiliated into retreat from the attack on Kyiv, have not made major progress.

Vladimir Putin, pictured handing medals to the Winter Olympics athletes, could strike at Britain
Vladimir Putin, pictured handing medals to the Winter Olympics athletes, could strike at Britain. Picture: Alamy

The British Ministry of Defence said it was trying to consolidate its control of Kherson, in the south, launching a four-month transition from the Ukrainian hryvnia to the Russian rouble in a bid to try and make a return to Kyiv's control "impossible".

Mr Zelenskyy, widely hailed for his impressive transformation from comedian to wartime leader, said in his nightly address on Saturday that Russian generals expected their troops to die by the thousands.

Read more: Ukraine releases photos of ten Russian troops accused of being among 'Butchers of Bucha'

There are suggestions Moscow has had some 20,000 losses in the conflict.

Mr Zelenskyy, who spoke in Russian, said the Kremlin has been recruiting new troops "with little motivation and little combat experience" to bolster battered units.

"The Russian commanders are lying to their soldiers when they tell them they can expect to be held seriously responsible for refusing to fight and then also don't tell them, for example, that the Russian army is preparing additional refrigerator trucks for storing the bodies," Mr Zelensky said late on Saturday.

Read more: Volunteer former soldier named as first Brit killed 'fighting Russia in Ukraine'

"They don't tell them about the new losses the generals expect. Every Russian soldier can still save his own life. It's better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land."

It comes as Sweden, which is considering joining Nato after decades of neutrality, said a Russian AN-30 plane violated its airspace.

Fighters flew up to intercept it late on Friday, near the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.