International

U.S. formally accuses Russia of ‘cyber-attacks campaign’

The U.S. government for the first time on Friday 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 on Friday about hacking of political groups. 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.

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”. 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.

Also on Friday, 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 on Friday that Russia was moving short-range nuclear-capable missiles into Kaliningrad, a tiny Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, confirming Estonian news reports. Until Friday, the Obama administration had avoided publicly singling out Russia in connection with the mounting civilian deaths in Syria or the various cyber-attacks. — Reuters