Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News Saturday his government had nothing to do with interfering in the 2016 US presidential elections, and suggested that the 13 Russians indicted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller were not even Russian.
“Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked,” he said.
Megyn Kelly’s NBC News Special traveled to Russia for a rare exclusive sit-down interview with Putin, where “amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia,” Megyn grilled Putin on the Kremlin’s role in Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
When Kelly asked if he approved of the interference of the 13 Russians as alleged by Mueller, Putin said, “It’s all the same to me. To me it absolutely makes no difference because they do not represent the government.”
Putin claimed Russia did not possess the tools nor the will to meddle in elections. He also complained that Washington—meaning National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—has refused Russian initiatives to cooperate on cybersecurity issues.
“But the US refuses to work like this and instead throws 13 Russians to the media,” Putin said, and listed all the possible ethnic groups who could have been meddling in US affairs.
“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 said.
Putin suggested that the United States interferes in Russian elections “all the time.”