Russian President Vladimir Putin says he doesn’t care about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election because the actions weren’t connected to his government.
In an interview with American broadcaster NBC News, Putin also suggested that some of the 13 Russian nationals indicted by the United States may not be ethnically Russian.
Putin put interviewer Megyn Kelly in her place when asked if he condoned the interference that was alleged in last month’s U.S. indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“It’s all the same to me. To me it absolutely makes no difference because they do not represent the government,” Putin answered, according to the Russian-language interview transcript posted Saturday by the Kremlin.
Putin said Russia has neither the tools nor the will to meddle in elections. He repeatedly complained during the interview that Washington has brushed off Russian initiatives to work together on cybersecurity issues.
“But the U.S. refuses to work like this and instead throws 13 Russians to the media,” he said, going on to list the possible ethnicities that would make the suspects “not even Russian.”
“Maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card; maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know, either,” the Russian leader said.
Putin claimed that the United States interferes in Russian elections “all the time” but that it was “impossible for us” to do the same.
“First, we have principles whereby we do not allow others to interfere in our domestic affairs and do not get into the affairs of others. … Secondly, we don’t have this quantity of tools,” he said.