Bri­tish May ac­cuses Rus­sia’s Putin of elec­tion med­dling

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - WORLD REPORT -

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

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