US Treasury acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Adam Szubin said that Putin was a "picture of corruption".

White House spokesman Josh Earnest yesterday backed up that line, saying that the Treasury's assessment "best reflects the administration view."

The Kremlin has already dismissed the US Treasury claim that it said amounted to an "official accusation", but ratcheted up the rhetoric after the White House got involved.

Ties between Moscow and Washington have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War over Russia's meddling in Ukraine.

The two sides, however, are currently engaged in an international peace push on the conflict in Syria, although they support different sides in the civil war.

Russian authorities have repeatedly accused the West of plotting to overthrow Putin, but critics insist an elite around the strongman is whipping up public fears as they cement their grip over the country's vast wealth.

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