Ahead of Biden Summit: Putin Refuses Cyberattacks Claims

Published June 15th, 2021 - 07:31 GMT
Putin denied that Russia engaged in cyber attacks
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with journalist of NBC News Keir Simmons in Moscow on June 11, 2021, during an exclusive interview ahead of a meeting with US President. Maxim Blinov / SPUTNIK / AFP
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team issued detailed indictments for Russian intelligence operatives accused of 2016 election interference

Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to try to pick apart U.S. claims on a media tour in advance of his summit with President Biden – denying in an interview airing Monday that Russia engaged in cyber attacks and saying there was no proof it interfered in U.S. elections.  

'Where is the evidence? Where is proof? It's becoming farcical,' Putin said in a sit-down interview with NBC's Keir Simmons in Moscow.

'We have been accused of all kinds of things - election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth - and not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof, just unfounded accusations,' he told the network's Kier Simmons.

'I'm surprised that we have not yet been accused of – provoking the Black Lives Matter movement. That would have been a good line of attack. But ...' Putin said, ridiculing the attack. 

Then he waded further into U.S. domestic politics, saying: 'We have always treated with understanding the fight of African Americans for their rights,' but said he couldn't approve of any 'extreme' actions associated with the movement.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team issued detailed indictments for Russian intelligence operatives accused of 2016 election interference. But Russia didn't hand over the alleged hackers, and they have not stood trial.  

The U.S. government has said Russia may be housing cyber hackers who carried out the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, but has not said it was a government operation.

U.S. intelligence does assess that Russia interfered in the 2016 and 2020 elections.  

Putin's comments come as Biden kicked off the NATO summit in Brussels by saying Russia and China had not acted 'in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped.'

Putin once again sought to undermine a U.S. push the Kremlin to respect press freedoms and allow a sphere for political opponents to exist – by bringing up U.S. prosecution of rioters who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6th.  

Putin, who is to meet President Joe Biden at a summit Wednesday, has suggested that the hundreds of people arrested for rioting at the U.S. Capitol are being subjected to 'persecution for political opinions.' 

Charging documents reveal many of those who have been arrested were carrying sticks and poles, attacked police officers, or broke through windows to enter the seat of legislative power. 

'We have a saying: "Don't be mad at the mirror if you are ugly,"' Putin said. 

'It has nothing to do with you personally. But if somebody blames us for something, what I say is, why don't you look at yourselves? You will see yourselves in the mirror, not us.'

Putin is likely to come under strong criticism from Biden at their meeting in Geneva for moves against his political opponents in Russia, particularly the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the detention of thousands of demonstrators protesting his arrest, and the outlawing of Navalny´s organizations as extremist.

Anticipating that Biden will raise issues of human rights and the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin said: 'You are presenting it as dissent and intolerance towards dissent in Russia. We view it completely differently.' 

He then pointed to the Jan. 6 unrest in Washington when protesters barged into the Capitol to try to halt the count of electoral votes to certify Biden´s election victory over Donald Trump.

'Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? ... They came there with political demands,' he said.

Putin also reiterated denials that the Kremlin was behind last year's poisoning of Navalny with a nerve agent that nearly killed him.

'We don't have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody,' Putin said.

'Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?' Putin said, referring to Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to climb through a window that led to the House floor.

In April, the United States announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats and new sanctions connected to the so-called SolarWinds cyberattack in which several U.S. government branches experienced data breaches. U.S. officials blamed the Russian foreign intelligence service.

In May, Microsoft officials said the foreign intelligence service appeared to be linked to an attack on a company providing services to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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