Vladimir Putin has ridiculed allegations of Russian meddling in US elections, accusing the Democrats of trying to shift blame for their defeat and likening the accusations against Moscow to anti-Semitism.
Facing questions from NBC’s Megyn Kelly, who moderated a panel discussion at St Petersburg’s economic forum, the Russian president said claims of interference in the US election contained “nothing concrete, only assumptions”.
Asked about the “fingerprints” – IP addresses allegedly belonging to Russian hackers – he said those could have been rigged and would not stand as credible evidence.
“What fingerprints? Hoof prints? Horn prints? Technology experts can invent anything and put the blame on anyone.”
US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping Donald Trump’s election victory, and congressional and FBI investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia have broken the Kremlin’s hopes for a detente with Washington.
“It reminds me of anti-Semitism,” Mr Putin said. “A dumb man who can’t do anything would blame the Jews for everything.”
He said the allegations of Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee overshadow the fact that the leaked emails were genuine and revealed unpleasant truths.
“It was true information, was it so important who leaked it?” he said. “It was necessary to apologise to the people and vow not to make such mistakes in the future.”
He blamed the Democrats for the failure to acknowledge their mistakes in the campaign, and “taking internal US political squabbles into international arena”.
“The problem isn’t us, the problem is inside US politics,” he said. “Trump’s team was more efficient during the election campaign.”
He added that while watching the US campaign unfold, he would sometimes think Mr Trump was going “over the top”.
“But it turned out that he was right,” Mr Putin said. “He found the right approach to those groups of the population, to those voters whom he targeted. They came to the polls and voted for him, and the other team miscalculated.”
Mr Putin scoffed at the US focus on the Russian ambassador’s contacts with members of Mr Trump’s team, saying the envoy was just doing his job.
Sergei Kislyak’s meetings with members of the Trump team have been a focus of the congressional investigation.
Mr Putin insisted it was perfectly normal for Mr Kislyak to try to establish contacts and discuss future ties, adding that he had not discussed specifics.
“What else the ambassador is supposed to do? He’s paid for holding meetings, discussing current affairs. Are you nuts?”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.