A former British ambassador to Russia has claimed cyber attacks believed to have been carried out by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, were born out of Putin's "paranoia".
The UK government has accused GRU of being behind a number of cyber attacks, including on the US Democratic party, a small TV network in the UK and on the World Anti-Doping Agency computers.
In an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer, Sir Andrew Wood said that the attacks were a way for the Putin to "prepare himself" against possible future attacks on Russia.
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"There was an element of paranoia in the Russian reactions, and Putin assumes that everybody else is just as untruthful and malevolent as he is, and that he needs to prepare himself against possible attacks," Sir Andrew said.
"The attack on the Anti-Doping was to expose other people and promote the idea that it wasn't just the Russians doping in the Olympics and so on. I think that's pretty clear. The more general is to establish the fact that they can do this if they want to.
"It is a threat that has been used against smaller countries as a precursor, like Georgia, to military action. It's part of a pattern.
"I suppose to some degree they need to practice it every now and again to see if it works. And also because if you task an agency like the GRU to have this sort of capacity, it's going to try it out, and is going to prove to Putin that they can do it."