The UK government has been practicing large-scale cyberattacks that could cause black outs across Russia, British officials say, amid an ongoing war of words between the two sides over a range of foreign policy issues.
London has taken an aggressive line with Moscow over the past months, accusing it of increased submarine activity near British waters, poisoning a former Russian double-agent and more importantly, carrying out regular hacking attacks against British infrastructure.
The Sunday Times first broke the news of the secret drills, citing unnamed officials familiar with the matter.
“If they sank our aircraft carrier with a nuclear-tipped torpedo, what is our response? There’s nothing between sinking their submarine and dropping a nuclear weapon on northern Kamchatka,” one official said.
“This is why cyber is so important; you can go on the offensive and turn off the lights in Moscow to tell them that they are not doing the right things,” the official added.
Last week, British officials accused Moscow of carrying out on the international chemical weapons watchdog, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
London alleged that the attempts to hack the organization showed that Russia was behind the March attack in Salisbury, during which ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter were targeted by Russian nerve agent Novichok.
British officials also charged that the hacking attack was aimed at derailing a pending analysis of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
The US and more recently the Netherlands have also accused the Kremlin of orchestrating similar cyberattacks.
According to the report, British military planners were also drawing up plans to use “irregular forces” in order to counter possible Russian moves against the NATO military alliance in the Baltic Region as well as other parts of the world.
Russia has time and again denied the Western accusations, dismissing them as “Russophobic hysteria.”