Russia accuses US of ‘unprecedented’ threats and ‘borderline insolence’

Washington taking ‘aggressive, unpredictable line,’ says Kremlin official

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The Independent Online

Russia has condemned Washington for making “unprecedented” threats of cyber attacks, which the Kremlin says demonstrate “borderline insolence”.

Last week the Obama administration officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the presidential elections, alleging Moscow was hacking computers belonging to American political organisations – including those of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

US vice-President Joe Biden said on Friday that America would send a “message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the violation.

NBC News also reported CIA leaders were planning a revenge cyber attack against Moscow.

A source said the leak would “embarrass” the Russian government and that information had already been obtained that could humiliate Mr Putin.

But Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told the RIA Novosti news agency that Moscow would respond to any US cyber attacks, saying such threats were “borderline insolence”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also criticised Mr Biden’s remarks and said Russia would make preparations to protect itself.

“The threats directed against Moscow and our state’s leadership are unprecedented because they are voiced at the level of the US vice-president,” Mr Peskov told the news agency.

“To the backdrop of this aggressive, unpredictable line, we must take measures to protect [our] interests, to hedge risks.”

Mr Biden had told NBC News in an interview: “We’re sending a message. We have the capacity to do it.

It will be at the time of our choosing. And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has denied accusations Moscow had launched a cyber warfare-style campaign to interfere with the election proces. He called the claims “flattering” but ridiculous” and unsubstantiated

Mr Putin has personally rebuffed the allegations and said he was not trying to help Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“They started this hysteria, saying this [hacking] is in Russia’s interests, but this has nothing to do with Russia’s interests,” Putin said. He claimed his government would collaborate with whoever won the election “if, of course, the new US leader wishes to work with our country”.

It comes after WikiLeaks, the organisation that publishes leaked information online, released thousands of emails from the chairman of the Clinton campaign’s email account. It has not said how it accessed them.

A range of Hillary Clinton’s private documents were also released last week.

Mr Trump recently told audiences in Florida he had nothing to do with Mr Putin or Russia.

“I promise you, I don't have any business deals with Russia,” he said at a rally in Lakeland.

Ms Clinton has repeatedly denounced the Republican candidate for taking a favourable stance on Russia. Mr Trump has indicated he is open to lifting Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia and has been strongly critical of Nato.

The property tycoon has also purportedly ignored an intelligence briefing that blamed Russia for the hack on members of the DNC.

During the first presidential debate, Mr Trump questioned whether Russia was involved in the hacking scandal. In the second debate he questioned if there had been a cyber attack in the first place.