President Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the Russian state has never engaged in hacking and said Moscow will wait out the current political storm in the U.S. to forge constructive relations with President Donald Trump, whom he praised as a straightforward person with a “fresh set of eyes.”
The Russian leader acknowledged the possibility that some individual “patriotic” hackers could have mounted some attacks amid the current cold spell in Russia’s relations with the West, but scoffed at allegations that hackers could influence the outcome of elections in the United States or Europe.
Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies, Putin also alleged that some evidence pointing at Russian hackers’ participation in cyberattacks — he didn’t specify which — could have been falsified in an attempt to smear Russia.
“I can imagine that some do it deliberately, staging a chain of attacks in such a way as to cast Russia as the origin of such an attack,” Putin said. “Modern technologies allow that to be done quite easily.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping President Donald Trump’s election victory, and the Congressional and FBI investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia have shattered Moscow’s hopes for a detente with Washington.
Putin said the “Russo-phobic hysteria” makes it “somewhat inconvenient to work with one another or even to talk.”
“It’s having an impact, and I’m afraid this is one of the goals of those who organize it are pursuing and they can fine-tune the public sentiments to their liking trying to establish an atmosphere that is going to prevent us from addressing common issues, say with regard to terrorism,” the Russian leader said.
Putin said Russia had been encouraged by Trump’s campaign statements in which he lamented Russia-U.S. ties being at a historical low and promised to improve them. He added that Moscow still hopes to…