UK officials are now “legitimate military targets” for Russia, former Kremlin president Dmitry Medvedev has warned.
The close ally of President Vladimir Putin and his deputy on the country’s security council – pointedly tweeted his stark warning in English.
The saber-rattling from Moscow came a day after the UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the Russian mainland was a legitimate target for Ukrainian drones.
Describing Britain as “the eternal enemy”, Medvedev said: “Today, the UK acts as Ukraine’s ally providing it with military aid in the form of equipment and specialists, ie, de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia. That being the case, any of its public officials (either military, or civil, who facilitate the war) can be considered as a legitimate military target.”
His words appeared to pose a direct threat to any UK government or military official deemed by Russia to be helping Kyiv in the war unleashed by Putin.
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He went on: “The UK’s Foreign Secretary Cleverly has stated that Ukraine ‘has the legitimate right to … project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself’.
“According to him, legitimate military targets beyond Ukraine’s border are part of its self-defense.” He is seen by some as angling for a return as president if Putin is forced out by war failures or ill-health.
Medvedev added: “The goofy officials of the UK, our eternal enemy, should remember that within the framework of the universally accepted international law which regulates
modern warfare, including the Hague and Geneva Conventions with their additional protocols, their state can also be qualified as being at war.”
Medvedev, once seen as a Kremlin liberal, is now positioning himself as a hawk within Putin’s inner circle.
Mr Cleverly, speaking on Tuesday during a visit to Estonia, a Nato country bordering Russia where UK troops are based, said Kyiv had “the legitimate right to defend itself”.
The Foreign Secretary added before jetting into Norway to meet Nato leaders: “It has the legitimate right to do so within its own borders, but it also has the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself. .”.
He appeared to go further than Washington in backing strikes inside Russia after Ukraine was blamed for drone attacks on Moscow and elite suburbs where Putin and other top officials live.
The US state department said America did not back military action in Russia.