Germany’s foreign intelligence chief has warned that Russia could seek to disrupt next year’s German elections with cyber attacks.

Bruno Kahl said his agency was aware of cyber attacks with no other purpose than “causing political uncertainty”.

“Europe is in the focus of this attempted disruption, and Germany in particular,” he told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.

Russia or Russia-linked groups have been regularly accused of such attacks.

Although campaigning for federal elections next autumn has not yet begun, Angela Merkel announced last week that she would be seeking a fourth term as chancellor.

Earlier this year, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency accused Russia of being behind a series of cyber attacks on German state computer systems, including targeting the lower house of parliament last year.

A group known as Fancy Bear, which is thought to be linked to the Russian state, has been blamed for the attacks. It is also believed to have targeted Mrs Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party.

In October, the US formally accused Russia of trying to interfere with its presidential elections by attacking political organisations. The Kremlin has consistently denied such allegations.

On Tuesday, Mr Kahl said of Washington’s assessment: “Attributing to a state actor is technically difficult. But there is some evidence that this is at least tolerated or desired by the state,” he added.

Mr Kahl has been in post for nearly five months and has rarely spoken in public in that time.

The interview comes a day after nearly one million Deutsche Telekom customers had their broadband service cut off following a possible hack of its hardware.