As consensus grows amongst U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was most likely behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee, the Kremlin responded Wednesday denying any part in trying to manipulate the American presidential election.
“President [Vladimir] Putin repeatedly said that Russia never interfered into internal affairs of other countries, especially in electoral processes,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, state news agency Tass reported Wednesday. “Moscow scrupulously avoids any actions, any statements that could be interpreted as direct or indirect interference into electoral processes.”
U.S. officials have said they are unsure whether the hack was part of routine cyberespionage or if it was meant to directly influence the presidential election between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported. WikiLeaks released the emails last week that have since led DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign, but it remains unclear how the group obtained thousands of pages of correspondence.
Trump, like the Kremlin, has dismissed allegations over Russian interference in the U.S. election tweeting that he has “ZERO investments in Russia.”
Putin has expressed hope that if Trump is elected, relations between the U.S. and Russia could rebound. Relations hit an all-time low following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. Both the U.S. and EU levied sanctions against Russia that still remain in place. Trump has suggested if he wins in November that he would want to normalize relations.
President Barack Obama said in an interview with Savannah Gutherie of “The Today Show” Tuesday that it was “possible” that Russia was trying to influence the U.S. election. “On a regular basis, they try to influence elections in Europe,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry broached the topic with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. When asked about it by reporters, Lavrov again denied hacking allegations and said, “I don’t want to use four-letter words.”
Despite the Kremlin’s denial, Moscow’s fingerprints have been found on past elections in other nations including neighboring Ukraine. Russia has been accused of secretly funding political parties across Europe that have pro-Russian outlooks.