UPDATE 2 — 6/5, 11:26 a.m. EDT: Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice responded on Sunday to Vladimir Putin’s repeated denials of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“Frankly, he’s lying,” Rice said on ABC. “The reality is — as all of our intelligence agencies have come together to affirm with high confidence — the Russian government at the highest levels was behind the very unprecedented effort to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.”
UPDATE — 6/2, 1:33 p.m. EDT: In a panel discussion hosted by NBC News’ Megyn Kelly at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin again denied U.S. intelligence agency accusations that the Kremlin was involved in a campaign to undermine 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“IP addresses can be invented — a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof,” he told Kelly. “There is no specific evidence, no facts, just assumptions, allegations and conclusions based on those allegations nothing more.”
In separate comments Thursday, Putin hinted that “patriotic” Russian hackers could have been behind various cyberattacks on Western democratic elections.
In a wide-ranging interview with French daily Le Figaro published Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the West to avoid demonizing Russia and described talk of the Kremlin being a peril to democracy and world peace as a “fictional threat.”
In Paris to meet newly-minted French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin revealed his firm view the Kremlin and Western nations share the same global vision for peace and should refrain from portraying Russia as wicked or threatening.
“Therefore, we should not build up tensions or invent fictional threats from Russia, some hybrid warfare etc.,” Putin said.
“You made these things up yourselves and now scare yourselves with them and even use them to plan your prospective policies. These policies have no prospects. The only possible future is in cooperation in all areas, including security issues.”
Putin has consistently denied a continuous stream of accusations from the West, particularly from the U.S. and most recently France, that the Russian Federation was involved in undermining each country’s election framework, referring to the charges in separate comments Thursday as “Russo-phobic hysteria”, which make it “somewhat inconvenient to work with one another or even to talk.”
Specific to U.S.-Russian relations, Putin told interviewers he believes President Trump is hamstrung by a political establishment which prevents rapprochement with the Kremlin.
Additionally, Putin blamed the delay in political normalization between Moscow and Washington on a “defeated party” seeking to assign blame for an electoral loss of which they are solely responsible.
“They are absolutely reluctant to admit this, and prefer deluding themselves and others into thinking it was not their fault, that their policy was correct, they did all the right things, but someone from the outside thwarted them. But it was not so. They just lost and they have to admit it,” he said.
Shifting to global issues, Putin denied the April 4 chemical attack in Syria was perpetrated by the Assad government and lamented his offer to invite international investigators to inspect the scene. He later described the rejection of his overture as the result of the West attempting to pressure President Bashar al-Assad.
Despite the difficulty and current political conditions, Mr. Putin remained optimistic eventual negotiations with the West, particularly the U.S., could produce agreements on important issues.
[RT News] [AP] [Reuters] [NBC News] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy EPA via BBC]