LONDON — Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, has warned that the Kremlin could interfere in a second Scottish independence referendum as it seeks to destabilise the West.
Wood, who is now an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme for Chatham House, said Russia poses a “widespread set of risks” to British democracy.
He told Sky News on Monday: “The risk to our elections, including Scottish independence if that ever comes about. There are risks to people with bank accounts and there are risks to people with health records.”
Wood, who served in Moscow from 1995 to 2000, did not elaborate on how Russia might attempt to intervene in a second Scottish referendum but was mainly referring to the dangers of a cyber attack. He implied that the Kremlin would favour a breaking up of the United Kingdom because of its disruptive consequences for Western democracy.
“In the Russian perspective, if you’ve got the chance [to disrupt Western democracy] you will do it and they are doing it and they have done it. They threaten the French elections and the German elections too,” he told Adam Boulton’s All Out Politics.
His comments come just days after a leaked Cabinet Office letter, seen by Business Insider, played down the risk of Russian interference in the mechanics of British elections. Cabinet office minister Ben Gummer said there was only a “negligible” chance of Russian state-sponsored interference in the rigging of votes.
Wood’s comments were echoed by Brian Lord, the former deputy director of intelligence at British spy agency GCHQ. Asked if Russia poses a threat, he said: “Certainly, yes.”
Lord added: “It is something the UK should worry about and certainly as far as the Russians are concerned, it is something the Russians have historically been very good at. It is something we should take seriously.”
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