Putin on alleged involvement in U.S. election: Ridiculous

Russian President hails cooperation between U.S. and Russia, says he's ready to extend START treaty.

Ben Ariel,

Vladimir Putin and Chris Wallace
Vladimir Putin and Chris Wallace
FOX News Channel

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hailed the cooperation between the U.S. and Russia particularly between the two countries’ militaries and special agencies against terrorism.

Speaking to Chris Wallace on FOX News Channel following his meeting with President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Putin related to the New START Treaty which is to expire in 2021 and said, “I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first, because we have some questions to our American partners. We think that they are not fully compliant with the treaty, but this is for experts to decide.”

“We also discussed the Iranian nuclear program. We discussed what we can do to improve the situation with North Korea. I've pointed out, and I will point out again, that I think that President Trump contributed a lot, that he did a lot to settle this issue. But in order to achieve complete denuclearization of the peninsula it will take international guarantees, and Russia stands ready to make its contribution to the extent that will be necessary. So, we can say that there are several issues of crucial importance for us -- this and some others -- we are starting to achieve some understanding which gives us sufficient ground to say that some things -- a lot of things changed to the better during today’s meeting,” he added.

The meeting with Trump, continued Putin, was a “good start” in the efforts to “address common differences” between the two countries.

Asked about the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections in 2016, which he has denied in the past, Putin replied, “People are talking about the purported interference of Russia with the election process in the United States. I mentioned this in 2016, and I want to say it now again -- and I really wish for your American listeners to listen to what I say. First of all, Russia, as a state, has never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections.

“Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States -- do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans? This is utterly ridiculous,” he continued.

Asked by Wallace about the indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of involvement in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Putin replied, “I said this in 2016, and I say it now. The idea was about hacking an email account of a Democratic candidate. Was it some rigging of facts? Was it some forgery of facts? That's the important thing that I am trying to -- point that I'm trying to make. Was this -- any false information planted? No. It wasn't. These hackers that are being discussed -- and I'll get back to it; just bear with me for a moment -- as we're getting told, they hacked a certain email account and there was information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to incline the process in favor of one candidate. And as far as I know, the entire party leadership resigned. They admitted the fact of their manipulations. So, that's one thing -- that manipulation is where public opinion should stop, and an apology should be made to the public at large -- instead of looking for the responsible -- the party at fault.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller “accused a certain private company in Russia -- that is not even a very big enterprise, its core area of competence is a restaurant business,” said the Russian President, who also claimed that “so far, American court has not discovered any trace of interference whatsoever. We -- with the United States -- we have a treaty for assistance in criminal cases, an existing treaty that exists from 1999. It's still in force, and it works sufficiently. Today I referred an example of its sufficient work.”

“Why wouldn't Special Counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement? Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed? Nobody sent us a single formal letter, a formal request,” he continued.

Wallace asked how Putin would respond if NATO were to move to add either Ukraine or Georgia to the alliance, to which the Russian President replied, “Well, negatively. The situation around NATO is going along those lines. I’m pretty clear — I have a pretty clear understanding of how their decisions are made. I know that — about the consensus rule, but before the consensus-based decisions are made on the organization-wide basis, there is an opportunity for bilateral contacts with member states, which was done with Poland, with Romania, which now station and deploy elements of the strategic anti-missile defense of the United States. For us, well, it's a direct and immediate threat for our national security. So, according to -- moving this NATO infrastructure towards our borders would be a threat, and it would -- the reaction would be extremely negative.”

Regarding Russia’s involvement in Syria, Wallace asked Putin about figures brought forward by independent monitors saying that since the civil war began in 2011, more than a half a million people have been killed, and Russia has bombed civilians in Aleppo and Ghouta. Wallace asked the Russian leader if he had any qualm about killing innocents.

“I think it is the terrorist groups who are to blame who destabilized the situation in the country. The ISIS, the Jabhat al-Nusra, and the like -- those are the true culprits, and that’s exactly the answer that American military gave us when they hit military -- civilian objects in Afghanistan or other countries,” replied Putin. “And it might seem dubious to some people, but in fact, it is true. In terms of Syria, American aviation bombed the city of Raqqa, bombed quite heavily, and today we discussed the need for humanitarian operation to be put in place, and I hope we’ll make progress in this area. We would really like for the plans that we discussed today to be carried into life.”

Asked about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which has been denounced by the U.S., Putin replied, “First of all, I’d like to make a correction. The joining of Crimea to Russia is not an annexation. While the undemocratic governance, free manifestation of a person’s will is a referendum, and people in Crimea went to a referendum and voted for joining Russia. Well, if this is annexation, what is democracy then? Secondly, we are aware of President Trump’s posture that president -- that the Crimea is part of Ukraine. He told me this today. I responded with the words pretty much similar to what I said to you, and I think we should leave our discussion at that.”




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