I welcome my right hon. Friend’s tour of the world and of the various abuses from Russia that we are dealing with at the moment. Though it is, as he rightly says, too soon to point fingers at Moscow regarding what happened in Salisbury, it is quite clear that we are seeing a pattern in Russian behaviour. Indeed, BuzzFeed’s Heidi Blake, a journalist who has been researching this subject intensively over a number of years, has come up with 14 deaths that she attributes to Russian elements, and there are others who have pointed this out. Only today, Shashank Joshi, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, indicated that murder is a matter of public policy in Russia today. My right hon. Friend’s ministerial colleague, the Minister for Europe and the Americas, was also absolutely right to criticise the murder of Boris Nemtsov only recently.
We are seeing a pattern of what the KGB would refer to as “demoralise, destabilise, bring to crisis and normalise”, so does my right hon. Friend agree that Russia is now conducting a form of soft war against the west, that its use of so-called fake news – more often known as propaganda and information warfare – is part of that, and that this requires a whole-of-Government response, which his Department is best placed to lead?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is indeed correct that Russia is engaged in a host of malign activities that stretch from the abuse and murder of journalists to the mysterious assassination of politicians. I am glad that he mentioned Mr Nemtsov, as in December I was privileged to pay tribute to his memory at the site of his murder on a bridge in Moscow.