Russian President Vladimir Putin again denied persistent allegations that Moscow has interfered in election campaigns in the United States and European countries.
Speaking on January 11 to a group of Russian editors and media executives, Putin also again laid blame for the deepening tensions between Russia and the United States on Washington.
Putin’s remarks come a day after the release of a report commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin that documented nearly two decades of Russian efforts to influence politics across Europe.
The report also criticized President Donald Trump, accusing him of doing too little to address the issue in the United States.
Since the January 2017 conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia engaged in a hacking-and-propaganda campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election, Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation of meddling.
With strong bipartisan backing for those conclusions, in Congress and much of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, the meddling allegations have helped send U.S.-Russian ties spiraling downward.
Putin did not appear to mention the Cardin report, but he broadly rejected the allegations.
“In my view, this is absolutely incorrect,” Putin said in televised comments. "No one likes it when someone interferes in their internal political question and affairs, and our American friends in particular do not like this.”
Trump has called for a better relationship with Russia, but in recent months Moscow and Washington have engaged in tit-for-tax expulsions and restrictions on diplomatic personnel in each country.
And the U.S. administration later this month is expected to widen financial sanctions against Russian companies and politically connected individuals, a move that will further strain ties.
Asked about the prospect for improved relations, Putin said it was up to Washington.
"At the moment, it does not depend on us but on the U.S. Will they show goodwill? Will they gather courage and show common sense and realize that after all the United States is also interested in improving relations with Russia, as it is in their national interest?” he said.
“As long as the Americans continue to play the Russian card in their domestic political struggle, it will keep souring our relations,” he said.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the concerns of Russian interference were "paranoid” and "not only hurt bilateral relations but the U.S. itself."
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP