Sustain the great work, Putin tells the workers of the espionage company

© Reuters. Russian President Putin visits the headquarters of the Foreign Secret Service in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said foreign intelligence is extremely important to protecting the country, in comments shortly after it was accused by some of being behind a major hack against US government departments.

Speaking at an event to commemorate 100 years since the establishment of the SVR foreign intelligence service, Putin said the agency and other security services are a crucial guarantee for Russia's "sovereign, democratic, independent development".

Some international cyber researchers have suggested that Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service may be behind an unprecedented attack on US government computer systems that Reuters first reported last week.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Russia was responsible for the attack. The Kremlin has always denied Moscow's involvement in cyber attacks against the West. It is said that Russia has nothing to do with this latest attack.

Putin told attendees at the event, which also marked Security Service Day, that it was important to develop counterintelligence work.

"I know what I am talking about," Putin, a former KGB agent, said in comments posted on the Kremlin website. "And I really appreciate the difficult professional surgeries that were performed."

"The greatest attention must be paid to information security, the fight against extremism and corruption," he added.

He also called on the agency's members to pay particular attention to the risks of conflict that "simmered" near national borders.

Despite a Russian-brokered ceasefire, clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave were reported again. Weekly protests against the government in Belarus continue.

"I assume that the Foreign Intelligence Service will continue to react flexibly to the rapidly changing international context, actively participate in the identification and neutralization of potential threats to Russia and improve the quality of its analysis materials," said Putin.

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