McCain said Wednesday that Russia’s alleged cyber attacks against American political organizations in order to influence the US presidential election last year, could be an “act of war”.

“It is an act of war,” said McCain, a strong opponent of Russia, to reporters present at the Capitol, Washington, DC.

“If you try to destroy the fundamental elements of democracy, you have destroyed a nation,” added McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the US Senate.

“I’m not saying that it’s a nuclear attack. I’m just saying that when you attack the fundamental structure of a nation, what they do, that is an act of war, ” he continued.

In addition, McCain accused Moscow last week that it had committed an “act of war” against the US, and called for stronger sanctions against Russia for alleged hacking of American democracy.

Part of the US intelligence claims that Russia interfered with the US presidential election in November 2016, although no conclusive report to bring evidence of this has ever been quoted or published.

McCain is a strong critic of both Russia and the elected President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly expressed doubts on the accusation that Moscow has launched cyber attacks against the US.

McCain and other congressional leaders have vowed to push for new sanctions against Russia, in addition to those announced last month by President Barack Obama.

On 22 December 2016, Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, due to allegations that Moscow interfered with US presidential elections through cyber attacks.

McCain criticized the sanctions as insufficient.

However, Donald Trump, who will officially become president on January 20, repeatedly challenged the fact that US intelligence indicated Russia as guilty of carrying out attacks on the US, and that it is time to “move on”.

Julian Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks, which published the emails stolen from the American Democrats, also denied that the Russian government would have provided the information.

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