Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has mocked allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, saying the American Democratic politicians are playing a blame game to justify their defeat in the vote.
Putin said Friday that the claims of Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the election were meant to divert attention away from the true information in the party’s leaked e-mails.
“It was true information. Was it so important who leaked it?” Putin said on Friday during a panel discussion at St. Petersburg’s economic forum, adding, “It was necessary to apologize to the people and vow not to make such mistakes in the future.”
US intelligence agencies have accused Putin of ordering a hacking and influence campaign aimed at tilting the November 2016 election in favor of Republican Donald Trump, who had pledged to boost ties with Moscow.
Asked about the “fingerprints,” IP addresses allegedly belonging to Russian hackers, Putin said they could have been rigged and cannot serve as credible evidence to support the hacking claims.
“What fingerprints?” he asked sarcastically. “Hoof prints? Horn prints? Technology experts can invent anything and put the blame on anyone.”
Putin further slammed American Democratic politicians for their failure to acknowledge their mistakes in the campaign and “taking internal US political squabbles into the international arena.”
“It’s an attempt to solve internal political problems using foreign policy instruments,” said the Russian president. “It’s harmful, hurting international relations, the global economy, security and the fight against terror. It’s time to stop that useless and harmful chatter.”
He went on to say that Trump was able to win thanks to his skills, not Russian interference.
“The problem isn’t us, the problem is inside US politics,” Putin added. “Trump’s team was more efficient during the election campaign.”
Putin further ridiculed persisting US focus on the Russian ambassador’s contacts with members of Trump’s campaign team, insisting that the envoy was merely doing his job.
Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s meetings with members of Trump’s team have come under investigation by a congressional panel.
Putin underlined that it was perfectly normal for Kislyak to make efforts in establishing contacts and discussing future ties, adding that he had not even started to discuss specifics.
“What else is the ambassador supposed to do?” Putin added. “He’s paid for holding meetings, discussing current affairs. Are you nuts?”
He also denied that Kislyak had made a deal with members of Trump’s team on lifting Washington’s anti-Russia sanctions.
“There were no agreements. We didn’t even come close to that. We didn’t even start negotiations,” Putin said.
During the Friday event, Putin also referred to the US-led NATO military alliance as “an instrument of US foreign policy,” pointing out that a lack of “constructive dialogue” with the organization impedes joint efforts on fighting terrorism.
He also questioned the objectives of the military alliance in face of the fact that its Cold War era rival, the Warsaw Pact as well as the Soviet Union have seized to exit. Putin then noted that the failed dialogue with NATO is no fault of Moscow.