Russia is now a ‘much greater threat’ for the UK’s national security than the Islamic State, says the Chief of General Staff of Great Britain.

Gen. Mark Carlton-Smith said Britain “cannot stand calm against the threat posed by Russia”.

“Russians are trying to use vulnerability and weakness where and when they find them,” he said.

Britain accuses Russia of poisoning in Salisbury and several cyber-attacks. In March, former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who sold secrets to M6, and his daughter Yulia survived, after being poisoned. Russia denies any involvement in the attack and describes the charges in cyber espionage as a “rich fantasy”. In turn, Moscow accused the British authorities of russophobia, misleading the international community and the citizens of the United Kingdom and generating an “irreversible anti-Russian hysteria”.

The comments of a gen. Carlton-Smith followed similar remarks made earlier this year by UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

In October, the UK government also accused the Russian military intelligence service, GRU, of being behind four major cyber-attacks against targets such as the US Democratic Party and a small TV network in Britain.

In his first interview since he was appointed as Chief of the General Staff in June, gen. Carlton-Smith said that Russia is undisputedly a greater threat than Islamic terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

“Russia has undertaken systematic efforts to identify and use Western vulnerabilities, especially in some of the non-traditional areas such as cyberspace, space and submarine wars,” he said.

“We cannot be inactive to the threat that Russia represents or leaves it without a response,” concluded gen. Mark Carlton-Smith.

The 54-year-old former SAS commander completed the military academy in Sandhurst over the last years of the Cold War. He led the search for Osama bin Laden following the September 11th terrorist attacks and led the UK campaign to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.