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Russian TV Crew's 'Suspicious Behavior' Triggers Military Alert, Public Warning In Britain


British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has called on the public to report suspicious activity near army sites after a Russian TV crew prompted an alert at a highly sensitive military facility, the Daily Mail newspaper reports.

The December 2 report said the warning was issued after Timur Siraziev of state-controlled Channel One was seen filming close to the barbed-wire perimeter fence of the 77th Brigade in Hermitage, Berkshire.

The TV reporter denied trying to infiltrate the base, which works in electronic and psychological warfare.

The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Russia over issues including Moscow's aggression in Ukraine, its alleged election meddling in the United States and Europe, massive international cyberattacks, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain.

Security cameras at the 77th Brigade’s base recorded Siraziev, Channel One's London-based bureau chief, making repeated passes of the facility on November 21 as a cameraman filmed from the passenger seat of his car, according to the Daily Mail.

A report later broadcast by Channel One also showed Siraziev speaking on camera as he walks close to an entrance to the base.

The Daily Mail reported that intelligence chiefs launched an investigation into the incident, while military chiefs issued a security warning to commanders at all of Britain's military facilities.

"We take the security of our bases and personnel incredibly seriously,” Williamson was quoted as saying .

"If a member of the public sees anyone acting suspiciously in or around a military base, it should be reported to the police as a matter of urgency," the defense secretary added.

Siraziev told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that the TV crew was operating openly on public land and "did not try to penetrate the base."

"I came to the checkpoint, introduced myself, that I was Timur Siraziev, a journalist for Channel One, said that we wanted to talk," he said.

Williamson in October accused Russia of acting like a "pariah state," whose "reckless and indiscriminate" attacks had left it isolated in the international community.

In an interview last month, the head of the British Army, General Mark Carleton-Smith, described Russia as a "far greater threat" to Britain's national security than Islamic terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.

Russia has repeatedly denied evidence that its agents were behind the nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury in March.

The Skripals survived the poisoning, which used a Soviet-made military nerve agent known as Novichok.

Two other British citizens were exposed to the nerve agent in June, apparently by accident; one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died.

With reporting by the Daily Mail and the BBC
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