PRIME MINISTER – SALISBURY POISONINGS & DEFENCE BUDGET – 5 September 2018
Dr Julian Lewis: May I urge the Prime Minister to make more of the passage of a law in July 2006 by the Russian Federation Parliament specifically enabling and empowering its President to order the assassination of Russia’s enemies abroad? As we know, this happened only weeks before the killing of Litvinenko. If she really wants to send a strong message to the Russian Government, will she have a quiet word with the Chancellor about enabling defence to get the uplift in its budget that it needs if further cuts in our ability to deter Russia are not to be inflicted by the Budget?
[The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend is of course right to highlight the law that was passed in Russia in 2006 that gives that ability to order assassinations outside the Russian state. He is right to point that out; it is an important fact for people to recognise. That is the background against which Russia is operating and we see that happening today. May I also say to him – I suspect that he will not be surprised by the response that I am giving him in relation to this matter – that, of course, we are looking at the modernising defence programme? As we look at the threat that is posed by Russia and at those that we also see from a whole variety of other sources, what is important is that we not only look at the conventional way in which we have dealt with those threats, but recognise the diverse and varied way in which malign state activity is undertaken today. As I referenced in my statement, we see a lot of propaganda and cyber-activity taking place by the Russian state. We need to make sure that we have all the tools at our disposal, and that will run across a number of parts of Government and not simply the Ministry of Defence.]