New evidence emerges of Kremlin meddling in Brexit referendum as Theresa May says ‘hostile’ Russia trying to tear Europe apart

Theresa May, Vladimir Putin are posing for a picture: Credits: AFP © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Theresa May has branded Russia a ‘hostile state’ in a second public broadside against Vladimir Putin amid growing evidence the Kremlin targeted Britain with pro-Brexit propaganda.

Speaking ahead of an EU summit on former soviet nations, the Prime Minister said Moscow were trying to “tear our collective strength apart.”

It follows comments she made earlier this month, warning Putin’s government against attempts to destabilise Western democracies with online propaganda and election meddling.

“We know what you are doing,” she said in a speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. “And you will not succeed.”

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May pictured during a meeting © Getty Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May pictured during a meeting

And more evidence has emerged this morning that Russia targeted British voters with Twitter propaganda ahead of the EU referendum .

An investigation by Buzzfeed News discovered a new group of ‘bot’ accounts which had pushed pro-Trump and pro-Brexit propaganda, but had not been reported by Twitter to the US Congress.

MPs have demanded Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee launch a probe into claims the Kremlin colluded with Brexit campaigners in the run up to the poll.

An army of ‘bots’ – automated accounts programmed to push propaganda on Twitter – shared thousands of messages a day in the run up to the poll.

Buzzfeed revealed 45 newly discovered accounts which switched abruptly from attacking Angela Merkel in German to tweeting about Brexit in English on the day of the referendum.

They also report some of the accounts would occasionally tweet overtly pro-Russian messages.

Speaking ahead of today’s summit in Brussels, Theresa May said: “The summit here today is all about taking stock and about looking ahead to see how we can tackle the shared challenges together, both in security and development.

“We must be open-eyed about the actions of hostile states like Russia who threaten the potential growth of the Eastern neighbourhood and who try to tear our collective strength apart. And I’m looking forward today to renewed commitments from European countries to working together to tackle these shared challenges both in security and development.”

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