Putin on Russia’s US election interference: “I do not care”

On US election interference, Putin is nonplussed.
On US election interference, Putin is nonplussed.
Image: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin
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Earlier this month, NBC’s Megyn Kelly interviewed Russian president Vladmir Putin about the state of relations between his country and the US.

On Saturday (March 10), the Kremlin published an official transcript of the interview. It was a heated discussion, during which Putin responded to Kelly’s questions about Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian citizens for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. “I do not care,” Putin said. “I do not care at all because they do not represent the government.”

When pressed, Putin said that any Russian citizens who might have meddled in a US election is not violating their country’s laws. Besides, he continued:

Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card; maybe, the US paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either.

Putin has to date denied that Russia had any influence on the US election. Later in the interview, he said that the Russian government does “not have such a goal, to interfere.” Instead, he said the chaos created by the outcome of the 2016 election was “your political system, the internal struggle, [and] the disorder and division.”

When asked about Donald Trump’s leadership in the US, Putin stopped short of outright praise. “He does his best to keep the election promises that he made to the American people,” Putin said. “I think that, in fact, this is the only proper way to show respect for the people who voted for him.”

Still, Putin feels that Russia is a victim in its tense relationship with the US. “ You made a decision, at the level of parliament, at the level of Congress and put Russia on your list of enemies…The U.S. imposed sanctions on us,” he said. “I believe that the current president wants to [work things out], but there are forces that won’t let him do it.”