Russia is looking to damage the UK economy by attacking its infrastructure which could cause "thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths", according to a senior UK government minister.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that Russia has been researching British infrastructure with a view to disrupting it and creating "panic" and "chaos".
"The plan for the Russians won't be for landing craft to appear in the South Bay in Scarborough, and off Brighton Beach," Williamson, tipped as a possible successor to Theresa May, was quoted as saying.
"What they are looking at doing is they are going to be thinking 'How can we just cause so much pain to Britain?'
"Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths, but actually have an element of creating total chaos within the country."
Mr Williamson claimed Russia was actively looking at ways to attack Britain.
"Why would they keep photographing and looking at power stations, why are they looking at the interconnectors that bring so much electricity and so much energy into our country?" he added.
"What they would do is cause the chaos and then step back. This is the real threat that I believe the country is facing at the moment."
But the Russian defence ministry responded on Friday by insisting Williamson "has lost his grasp on reason".
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov ridiculed Mr Williamson's claims, saying it was worthy of British comedy group Monty Python and that the minister only talked about the perceived Russian threat to "raise his profile".