National Security

Russia: Claim that Putin is behind hacking is ‘nonsense’

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Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday dismissed an NBC report that President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in Moscow’s extended cyber campaign during the U.S. presidential campaign.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was “astonished” when he saw the report, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

“I think this is nothing but nonsense. There is not a chance that anybody could believe that,” he added.

Lavrov’s rejection of the story is among the most explicit by Russia, which has repeatedly dismissed allegations of involvement in the hacking of Democratic political organizations.

According to NBC News, U.S. intelligence officials believe Putin himself directed a campaign targeting institutions including the Democratic National Committee. Stolen documents from the group and others were leaked to sites such as WikiLeaks as part of what the Obama administration has claimed was a concerted effort to disrupt the U.S. election.

{mosads}According to reports, officials within the CIA believe that the Russian operation was conducted specifically to boost the candidacy of President-elect Donald Trump, who has taken a soft tone on the Kremlin. Putin’s years-long antagonism against Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic nominee, reportedly also helped to propel the Russian hacking.

Critics have questioned the reported CIA position, which appears not to be shared unanimously across the nation’s 17 federal intelligence agencies.

President Obama has ordered for a review of the Russian cyber campaign to be completed by the time he leaves office.

Outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has also repeatedly raised alarms about Russia’s involvement in the election, though at times with little evidence. On Thursday, he seemed sure of Putin’s involvement.

“From what I understand, the answer is clearly ‘yes,’ ” he told reporters at his final press conference on Capitol Hill.

“His having been the former head of the KGB, does that surprise you?”

Tags Donald Trump Harry Reid Hillary Clinton

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