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WASHINGTON: The Trump administration predicts Russia will meddle in US elections this year as it pursues bolder cyber operations and false information campaigns against America and its allies, US intelligence agencies said on Tuesday.

In this year’s global threats assessment, they also described the risk of conflict, especially with North Korea, as higher today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. So, too, is a rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is destabilising the Middle East. The danger posed by weapons of mass destruction also is rising.

“In the next year, Russian intelligence and security services will continue to probe US and allied critical infrastructures, as well as target the United States, Nato, and allies for insights into US policy,” the report said.

“The 2018 US midterm elections are a potential target for Russian influence operations.” National Intelligence Director Dan Coats was even stronger.

“Russians stepped up their game with cyber, in particular, in 2016,” Coats said in a telephone interview.

His expectation: Russian interference in the midterm or in state elections.

“We think it’s very likely because we don’t see a let up in efforts to do this,” Coats said.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018

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