The US and Britain on Monday accused Russia of launching cyber attacks on computer routers, firewalls and other networking equipment used by government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure operators around the globe.
Washington and London issued a joint alert saying the campaign by Russian government-backed hackers was intended to advance spying, intellectual property theft and other "malicious" activities and could be escalated to launch offensive attacks.
It followed a series of warnings by Western governments that Moscow is behind a string of cyber attacks. The United States, Britain and other nations in February accused Russia of releasing the "NotPetya" virus, which in 2017 crippled parts of Ukraine's infrastructure and damaged computers across the globe, costing companies billions of dollars.
The Kremlin yesterday dismissed as "groundless" warnings from Britain and the US that Russian state-sponsored hackers were threatening their crucial computer networks.
"We don't know what these new accusations are based on," said President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Meanwhile, Trump has delayed imposing additional sanctions on Russia and is unlikely to approve them unless Moscow carries out a new cyber attack or some other provocation, a senior administration official said on Monday.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that Washington was preparing new sanctions on Russia over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"The ambassador got out ahead of things this time," the official, who deals with the issue, said.