Russia has rejected accusations it is spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

US officials told The Associated Press that Russian intelligence services were using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that the US is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November.

The three websites published around 150 articles about the pandemic response, including coverage aimed either at propping up Russia or denigrating the US between late May and early July, one of the officials said.

If anyone talks about some kind of disinformation, it is some kind of persistent phobia

One of the identified websites, One World, posted a response, denouncing as “categorically false” allegations that it worked for the Russian military intelligence service or was involved in propaganda or meddling.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the allegations “some kind of a persistent phobia”.

“Russian media actively work to cover the situation with the coronavirus. Indeed, when it comes to Russia, it is going through this difficult time better than many other countries, albeit not without problems. Indeed, all the media point to considerable problems that the United States are experiencing during this period,” Mr Peskov told reporters.

He continued: “So in this case if anyone talks about some kind of disinformation, it is some kind of persistent phobia, and there is no need to blame objective and quality work of the media.”

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said the accusations are either “new conspiracy theories” invented by journalists or “yet another hoax of American security services”.

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