Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that the Russians who interfered with the US presidential elections in 2016 could have been “Jews, but with Russian citizenship.”
In the interview with NBC network, Putin was quoted as saying, “I do not care at all, because they do not represent the government. Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked; 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,” he said.
The transcript of the interview was released by the Kremlin on Saturday.
“Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” Putin asked rhetorically.
When asked by interviewer Megyn Kelly if he condoned the alleged election interference, Putin was apathetic.
“It’s all the same to me. To me it absolutely makes no difference because they do not represent the government,” Putin answered.
Putin also claimed that the US government has rebuffed his suggestions that they join in a combined effort against such cyber attacks.
“But the U.S. refuses to work like this and instead throws 13 Russians to the media,” Putin said. “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.”
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.