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Johnson: UK must take precautions to defend against Russian retaliation

Cabinet minister Boris Johnson on Sunday stated that the UK should take "every possible precaution" to defend itself from the prospect of Russian retaliation following Friday's air strikes on Syria.

The defence secretary made the comments to the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday after reports suggested that Russia could launch cyber attacks on infrastructure in the UK in response to the air strikes carried out by UK, US and French forces against the Moscow-backed Syrian regime.

The Sunday Times reported security sources who warned that the government was bracing itself for "kompromat" attacks, where embarrassing or compromising material is released about members of the cabinet and other high ranking officials.

Read more: Johnson: Syria strikes send message chemical weapons not tolerated

However, the security sources also told the Sunday Times that the UK would consider launching its own retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia if its national infrastructure was targeted by the Kremlin.

When asked about the possibility of potential Russian "revenge attacks", Johnson said:

You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed.

He went on to say that the UK had "limited action" to respond as it did not seek an escalation with Russia.

"I went to Moscow in December and we held out the hand of engagement," he continued. "We want to engage with Russia.

"But Im afraid the Russians give us every possible signal and evidence that we also have to beware."

The defence secretary also said the air strikes were "the right thing to do" as it would act as a deterrent for the Assad regime to use "barbaric" chemical weapons again.

"We must hope that it is a deterrent," he stated. "We cant tell how the Assad regime will respond. If and when such a thing were to happen, then clearly with allies we would study what we should do."

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