The Kremlin on Thursday sharply condemned an NBC News article that quoted two unnamed senior U.S. intelligence officials who said that Putin was personally involved in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacks and alleged U.S. election interference.
USA Today reports:
"I was astonished when I saw it," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of the news 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."
In Japan, where Putin was on an official visit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also blasted the report as "ludicrous nonsense."
These statements, like any nonsense, "cannot have any grounds," the Kremlin spokesman said.
One of the "high-level" intelligence officials quoted by NBC told the outlet that what "began as a 'vendetta' against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to 'split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore.'"
The U.S. has "solid information" tying Putin to the DNC hacks, the official said.
"If you care about the country enough to be angry at the prospect of election-meddling, you should be terrified of the prospect of military tensions with Russia based on hidden evidence," argued The Intercept's Sam Biddle. "You need not look too far back in recent history to find an example of when wrongly blaming a foreign government for sponsoring an attack on the U.S. has tremendously backfired."