A fear of cyber-attack helps explain, though not excuse, Britain’s ill-considered plan to unilaterally increase its nuclear warhead stockpile

It had to happen sooner or later. Repeated Russian cyber-attacks, hacks, data thefts and disinformation operations aimed at influencing American elections have finally proved too much for Joe Biden, the US president to bear. Intolerable, too, are what Washington sees as the Kremlin’s malign power-plays in sensitive conflict zones, from Syria and Afghanistan to Ukraine and the Balkans.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, also stands accused by western countries of waging war on his own people: witness the recent crackdown on opposition activist Alexei Navalny’s pro-democracy supporters. Putin’s regime is widely viewed as irredeemably corrupt. Britain last week dubbed Russia a “hostile state”. The US agrees. The question is, what will Biden do about it?

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