Public warning after Russian TV crew sparks military alert

Timur Siraziev Image copyright Channel One
Image caption Timur Siraziev's report from outside the Berkshire base was broadcast on Russia's Channel One

The defence secretary has called on the public to report suspicious activity near military sites after a Russian TV crew prompted an alert at an Army base.

Gavin Williamson issued the warning after Timur Siraziev, of Channel One, was seen outside 77 Brigade's Berkshire base, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The unit works in social media and psychological operations.

The MoD said Mr Siraziev's "suspicious" behaviour was monitored by the base's security systems.

Russia's Channel One later broadcast a report by Mr Siraziev containing footage apparently filmed from a vehicle as it passed the barracks in Hermitage on 21 November.

He is also shown speaking on camera as he walks close to an entrance to the base.

The Mail on Sunday said the security alert warns troops not to approach Mr Siraziev or engage him in conversation if they are alone but to contact police immediately.

Mr Williamson said: "We take the security of our bases and personnel incredibly seriously.

"If a member of the public sees anyone acting suspiciously in or around a military base it should be reported to the police as a matter of urgency."

With UK-Russian relations frosty in the wake of the Salisbury Novichok poisoning, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming warned earlier this year that Moscow posed a "real" and "active" threat to the international community.

Last month, the head of the Army, Gen Mark Carleton-Smith, described Russia as a "far greater threat" to UK security than the Islamic State group.

Mr Siraziev is listed on the Russian Embassy's website as Channel One's bureau chief.

When set up in 2015, 77 Brigade was touted as a unit that would help the UK to fight wars in the "information age" by helping to win hearts and minds.

It includes both regular troops and reservists.

Head of the Army at the time, Gen Sir Nick Carter, said the move was about trying to operate "smarter".