The Kremlin on Friday slammed the U.S. for pointing the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin over cyber attacks targeting the U.S. election, saying Washington should either prove the accusations or drop the issue.
“At this point they need to either stop talking about this or finally present some sort of proof. Otherwise this looks extremely scurrilous,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a day after Barack Obama pledged to retaliate against Russian hacking.
Peskov spoke to journalists during a visit to Japan.
Obama on Thursday warned that the United States would take action against Moscow after the White House accused Putin of direct involvement in cyber attacks designed to influence the U.S. election.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action,” Obama told NPR radio.
“And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing.”
The outgoing U.S. president’s remarks dramatically upped the stakes in a dispute between the world’s leading nuclear powers over interference that may have swayed last month’s tight election in which Republican billionaire Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s threat came after the White House ratcheted up allegations over the Russian hacking by personally tying Kremlin strongman Putin to the attacks.
“I don’t think things happen in the Russian government of this consequence without Vladimir Putin knowing about it,” one of his top advisers, Ben Rhodes, said earlier Thursday.
Pointing the finger at the Russian president over meddling in the election also puts the White House on a collision course with Trump, who has become increasingly isolated in questioning Russian involvement in hacks of Democratic Party emails that appeared to slow the momentum of Clinton’s campaign.
Trump on Thursday again rejected the U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia manipulated his election battle against Clinton with hacked documents.
The president-elect took to Twitter to reiterate his dismissal of CIA and FBI reports now widely accepted by politicians from both parties.
“If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House waite [sic] so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?” he tweeted.
Last week, he branded the CIA investigation “ridiculous”, saying “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace.”
On October 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence said in a stern statement that the Russian government was behind the hacks of U.S. political organizations.