THE head of MI6 has warned Russia and other rogue states “not to underestimate” the UK’s “determination” in a rare public speech.

Speaking at St Andrews University on Monday, intelligence chief Alex Younger warned of threats from enemies who regard themselves as being in a state of “perpetual confrontation”.

He said the UK needs to adjust to a new political reality as “power, money and politics is going east”.

The chief of the Secret Intelligence Service said sources of threats to national security were getting “more complicated”.

He added: “You can see where this is going, it’s getting more complicated.

“Power, money and politics is going east. In that respect, we find ourselves as a prize taker in places where we might have been a prize maker in the past. That’s a new political reality that we need to adjust to.”

He singled out Russia and the “flagrant hostile act” of the Salisbury nerve agent attack, adding MI6 will no longer take the state by its word.

He said: “Mr [Sergei] Skripal came to the UK in an American-brokered exchange, having been pardoned by the president of Russia – and to the extent that we assumed that had meaning. That is not an assumption we will make again.”

Younger described how MI6 helped expose the perpetrators said to be behind the attack, and how it helped co-ordinate the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

He said: “Our intention is for the Russian state to conclude that, whatever benefits it thinks it is accruing from this activity, they are not worth the risk ... I urge Russia or any other state intent on subverting our way of life not to underestimate our determination.”

Younger also said he was “perplexed” by the jailing of a British academic for spying in the United Arab Emirates.

Matthew Hedges was freed last week after a high-profile battle with the Gulf state ally, but officials persisted in calling him an MI6 spy – a claim denied by family and colleagues.

Younger said there will be “frank conversations” with the UAE over the incident.

He said: “I genuinely don’t understand how our Emirate partners came to the conclusions they came to.

“They are important partners of ours, so I think there are some frank conversations ahead of us.”