British intelligence chief warns of Russia-China ‘limitless’ partnership, but insists West has ‘advantages’

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MI6 Chief Richard Moore did not hold back when discuss Russia and China during a fireside chat at the Aspen Security Forum, he even stated that the UK now considers China its “top priority” and that Russia’s military effort in Ukraine has ended in “a total failure.”

“Presidents Putin and Xi, when they met, came to this agreement … with a no-restriction clause,” Moore said. “Now… that ‘no limits’ is a catchy phrase, isn’t it? It’s a resounding phrase, and I think it says that when President Xi says these things, he means them, and we should listen carefully.”

Moore presented a complex picture in his first on-camera interview outside the UK. international landscapein particular regarding the challenges to stay “upstream” of China, as well as a number of harsh statements regarding Russia and its actions in Ukraine.

Moore criticized China for “beating Russia’s drums and selling” Putin’s version of Ukraine “without irony.” “They sell their snake oil all over the world,” Moore said.

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He also brought up the downside of doing business with China, pointing to Sri Lanka making “really inappropriate economic decisions” by trusting China and falling victim to its Belt and Road Initiative. He argued that the West showed a greater willingness to work in an “independent and creative” environment.

Most strikingly, Moore named China as Britain’s top priority, ahead of even any counter-terrorism effort.

MI6 chief Richard Moore speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.  October 30, 2021, which states that British intelligence agencies must open up to cooperation with the global technology sector if they are to counter growing cyber threats from hostile states, criminals and terrorists.

MI6 chief Richard Moore speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. October 30, 2021, which states that British intelligence agencies must open up to cooperation with the global technology sector if they are to counter growing cyber threats from hostile states, criminals and terrorists.
((Photo by Stephan Russo/PA Images via Getty Images))

“We’re putting more effort into China,” Moore said. “We are now focusing more on China than on any other single issue.”

“So, for example, in terms of our mission, we just stepped over the fight against terrorism, and this seems to be a very important moment – after 9/11, after 7/7 in London – but this reflects the seriousness of the mission. for us,” he added.

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The biggest problem with China has to do with the “non-transparent” system, especially after China crushed US spy sources in 2010killing or imprisoning at least 18 such operatives and setting the US back by “decades”.

“But I would just say that … we have this huge advantage that the Chinese don’t have, because we have friends – we have allies, we have the ability to work in a reliable manner to try to meet this challenge.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019.
(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool)

The US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand exchange intelligence in a system known as Five Eyes Alliance. In addition to this alliance, which allows intelligence to flow freely between the five countries, Moore argues, the US, UK and their partners also offer a “middle ground” for countries that China and Russia do not have.

“You know, there are many countries that may not share our values,” he said. “They may not share our political systems, but they are a vital battlefield for us as we seek to compete with the Chinese, and if we leave a vacuum in these places, the Chinese will fill it.”

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Moore described how he seeks to “build relationships” with the intelligence services of a particular country that “may fall into this category” and try to find common ground.

“I will not leave my values ​​at the door,” he added, stressing that his values ​​remain “critical” to his service. “I will find ways to find common ground and I think we should, and part of that is, frankly, not seeing this as some kind of 1950s cowboy movie scene. [where] the bad guys have black hats, and we all have white ones.”

A Ukrainian soldier walks past a destroyed apartment building in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022.

A Ukrainian soldier walks past a destroyed apartment building in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/Vadim Girda)

“It’s a messy, contested world and we need to be prepared.”

One area where this training came in handy was working with the President of Russia. Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. Moore reiterated the importance of knowing before an invasion what Putin intended to do and how it led to so many setbacks.

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“We had a huge privilege in the intelligence services of the US and UK to know that [Putin’s] there was a plan and he had three things he wanted,” Moore said. [President Volodymyr] Zelensky, the second was to capture Kyiv, and the third was to sow disunity within the NATO alliance.”

“To briefly address these three… I think it’s a failure if you completely failed to capture Kyiv.” This, he says, means that Russia has suffered a “very, very bloody nose.”

He echoed CIA Director William Burns’ assessment that Russia lost about 15,000 soldiers. — at least — during the invasion, saying it was a “conservative” estimate, equal to the same number of troops that Russia lost in 10 years of operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Like Burns, he also said that Putin is not sick.

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He said that Russia’s biggest setback had resulted in the growth of NATO’s strength, which once again underlined the value of cooperation among Western allies to achieve their goals. wit Sweden and Finland join allianceMoore believes that NATO is stronger than ever before.

“I never thought I would see Sweden and Finland join the [NATO]”, he said. “Sweden is simply giving up 200 years of neutrality to do this. So the whole thing, I think, is considered an epic failure.”