British May accuses Russia’s Putin of election meddling
THERESA May has launched her strongest attack on Russia yet, accusing Moscow of meddling in elections and carrying out cyber espionage.
Addressing leading business figures at a banquet in London, the prime minister said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”.
May said it was “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”.
But, she added, whilst the United Kingdom (UK) did not want “perpetual confrontation” with Russia, it would protect its interests.
Her comments are in stark contrast to those of United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump, who last week said he believed President Putin’s denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to visit Russia next month.
In a major foreign policy speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, which May described as a “very simple message” for President Putin, she said he must choose a very “different path” from the one that in recent years had seen Moscow annex Crimea, foment conflict in Ukraine and launch cyber attacks on governments and Parliaments across Europe. Russia could be a valuable partner of the West but only if it “plays by the rules”, she argued.
European Union foreign and defence ministers attend a signature ceremony of a defence pact, aiming to mark a new era of European military integration to cement unity after Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, in Brussels, Belgium. PHOTO: REUTERS/EMMANUEL DUNAND/POOL