Britain has blamed the Russian government for a global cyberattack that mainly hit businesses in Europe in 2017, accusing Moscow of "weaponising information" in a new kind of warfare.

Foreign Minister Tariq Ahmad said "the UK government judges that the Russian government, specifically the Russian military, was responsible for the destructive NotPetya cyberattack of June 2017".

The fast-spreading outbreak of data-scrambling software centred on Ukraine, which is embroiled in a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. 

It spread to companies that do business with Ukraine, including US pharmaceutical company Merck, Danish shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk and FedEx subsidiary TNT.

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Ahmad said the "reckless" attack cost organisations hundreds of millions of dollars.

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Russia of "undermining democracy, wrecking livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, and weaponising information" with malicious cyberattacks.

"We must be primed and ready to tackle these stark and intensifying threats," Williamson said.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, however strongly denied Russia's involvement.

"We categorically deny the accusations. We consider them unfounded and baseless and see them as continuation of groundless Russophobic campaign," he said.


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