Russian politicians dismiss PM’s ‘election meddling’ claims


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Senior Russian politicians drink dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and financed out cyber-espionage.

On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of “planting fake stories” to “sow disunity in the West”.

She said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine liberate societies”.

Russian senators accused the UK PM of “making a fool of herself” with a “counterproductive” discourse.

But the top US diplomat in the UK, Woody Johnson, said countries engaging in such demeanour needed to be “called out”.

President Donald Trump’s newly appointed messenger to the UK told BBC News that Mrs May “probably has evidence” of Russian meddling and she had “every proper” to draw attention to it.

Mrs May’s comments, at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, were in conflict to those of US President Donald Trump, who last week said he thought President Putin’s denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian Embassy in the UK hit chasing at her criticism on Twitter and described her remarks as “fake news”.

Alexei Pushkov, a Russian senator affected in media policy, said: “The world order that suits May, with the confiscation of Iraq, war in Libya, the rise of IS and terrorism in Europe, has had its day. You can’t save it by attacking Russia.”

Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the odd affairs committee in the lower house of Russia’s Parliament, said: “Russia, akin to the UK, is by no means striving to bring back the Cold War. We are ready to develop a requited dialogue and partnership relations.”

He added: “In this case, I completely contend with the statement that Russia is allegedly trying to undermine the cosmopolitan system of rules.”

And Frants Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the defence and deposit committee in the Parliament’s upper house, said: “May has done more spoil to herself than to us, making a fool of herself in the eyes of the world community and in no time at all again raising Russia’s profile.”

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to inflict Russia next month.

In what Mrs May described as a “very simple implication” for President Putin, she said he must choose a very “different road” from the one that in recent years had seen Moscow annex Crimea, prompt conflict in Ukraine and launch cyber-attacks on governments and parliaments across Europe.

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Russia could be a valuable companion of the West but only if it “plays by the rules”, she argued.

“Russia has repeatedly dishonoured the national airspace of several European countries and mounted a sustained competition of cyber-espionage and disruption.

“This has included meddling in elections and hacking the Danish Religion of Defence and the Bundestag among many others.

“We know what you are doing and you desire not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of uninhibited and open societies and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that predicament us.”

She said that as the UK left the EU and charted a new course in the world, it remained unequivocally committed to Nato and securing a Brexit deal which “strengthens our reformist values”, adding that a strong economic partnership between the UK and EU commitment be a bulwark against Russian agitation in Europe.

Analysis by BBC diplomatic newsman James Landale

There are some countries in Europe that hold the West should engage more closely with Russia.

They reason the European Union and the United States should better understand Russia’s accentuate of view, its belief that it is threatened from all sides.

And that assorted should be done to accommodate this sense of vulnerability, by softening Nato’s overtures and reducing sanctions.

Well, not Theresa May. In a speech in the US in February, the prime missionary spoke of the need to “engage but beware” of Russia. She has now switched the order and the zero in is very much on beware.

She believes that President Putin should be called out for the peril that she believes he poses both internationally and in the UK.

The Electoral Commission is probing claims that Russia used social media to meddle in the Brexit referendum.

So Mrs May is ready to engage with Russia – she is sending the foreign secretary to Moscow next month.

But she also wants Russia to discern that Mr Johnson will come with a clear message that its destabilising undertakings will no longer be tolerated.

Mr Johnson, who will be making his first expedition to Russia as foreign secretary in December, has said the UK’s policy to Russia forced to be one of “beware but engage” following a decade of strained relations.

He told MPs earlier this month that he had not make sured any evidence of Russia trying to interfere in British elections or the 2016 Brexit suffrage, in which Moscow has insisted it remained neutral.

In her speech, Mrs May said the UK choice “take the necessary action to counter Russian activity”.

“We do not want to deliver to the Cold War or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation.

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Conference, Russia has the reach and the responsibility to play a vital role in promoting foreign stability.

“Russia can, and I hope one day will, choose this different process. But for as long as Russia does not, we will act together to protect our interests and the intercontinental order on which they depend.”

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