by Daniel Politi · March 10, 2018
A picture taken on March 8, 2018 shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin congratulating Russian women on International Women’s Day.
ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not losing any sleep over accusations that some of his fellow Russian citizens interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Why? Because there’s no connection to his government. In an interview with NBC, Putin said the 13 Russian nationals who were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller may not even be ethnically Russians, which would apparently mean they’re not real Russians at all. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” Putin told NBC’s Megyn Kelly. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”
During the interview, Putin said that he “couldn’t care less” about the accusations because none of them have ties to the Kremlin. “Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” Putin asked, noting at one point that “there are 146 million Russians.”
Putin also insisted he hadn’t seen any evidence that proved the Russian citizens in question had even violated the law. “We in Russia cannot prosecute anyone as long as they have not violated Russian law,” he said. “At least send us a piece of paper. … Give us a document. Give us an official request. And we’ll take a look at it.”
Throughout the interview, Putin puts forward a mocking tone and even questions the whole premise that someone could remotely affect another country’s elections. “Could anyone really believe that Russia, thousands of miles away … influenced the outcome of the election? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous even to you?” he asked. “It’s not our goal to interfere. We do not see what goal we would accomplish by interfering. There’s no goal.” At the same time though, the Russian president affirmed that the United States interferes in Russian elections “all the time” but that it is “impossible for us” to do the same.