The U.S. government for the first time formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organisations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised these activities,” a U.S. government statement said about hacking of political groups.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
U.S. intelligence officials concluded weeks ago that the Russian government was conducting or orchestrating cyber attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, possibly to disrupt or discredit the election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton faces Republican Donald Trump.
A Kremlin spokesman called the U.S. allegations “nonsense”, the Interfax news agency reported.
On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. accusations lacked any proof and were an attempt by Washington to fan “unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria”.
“This whipping up of emotions regarding ‘Russian hackers’ is used in the U.S. election campaign, and the current U.S. administration, taking part in this fight, is not averse to using dirty tricks,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday in comments posted on the ministry’s website.
The Obama administration’s decision to blame Russia for the attacks is the latest downward turn in U.S. relations with Moscow, which are under strain over Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine and in cyberspace.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russian and Syrian actions in the Syrian civil war, including bombings of hospitals, “beg for” a war crimes investigation.
In addition, a U.S. intelligence official said that Russia was moving short-range nuclear-capable missiles into Kaliningrad, a tiny Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, confirming Estonian news reports.
Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, said the public blaming for the hacks