Russia is attempting to "sow dissension" and undermine democracy in Britain, France, and other Western nations using propaganda, subversion, and cyberattacks, Britain's national security adviser said.
Mark Sedwill told a parliamentary committee on December 18 that threats from Russia range from disinformation campaigns and other unconventional warfare to its increased military capability in the North Atlantic and Eastern Europe.
"We know that the Russian threat is definitely intensifying and diversifying," Sedwill said. "The Russian attitude has worsened more generally towards the West, and that seems set to continue."
Sedwill said Russia has planted fake stories in the media about the conduct of NATO soldiers in Eastern Europe, where NATO troops are based, to undermine their legitimacy.
He also accused Russia of meddling in the recent French elections, even though he said this had no chance of changing the outcome of the vote.
"It clearly was designed to undermine the citizen's trust in their systems, and we see quite a lot elsewhere," he said.
Sedwill declined to say how Britain would respond to any Russian cyberattack. But he said Britain has an advantage over Russia in being able to call on its NATO allies.
“One of the assets the Russians don’t have is allies,” he said. "If you put together the British, French, and German defense budgets…it is about twice the Russian defense budget."
British officials have increasingly sounded alarms about threats they see emanating from Russia. Prime Minister Theresa May last month warned that Moscow is seeking to "sow discord in the West" and, addressing the Kremlin, proclaimed: "We know what you are doing, and you will not succeed."
The head of Britain's armed forces last week warned that Russia could disrupt the Internet and trillions of dollars in trade and financial transactions by damaging underwater communications cables.