Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that he was behind the recent cyberattacks across the United States, calling the allegations against him “farcical.”
“We have been accused of all kinds of things,” Putin told NBC News Monday. “Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.”
Russian intelligence and Russian-speaking groups have launched wide-ranging cyberattacks in recent months, affecting American consumer goods ranging from gasoline to meat. President Joe Biden imposed sweeping sanctions against Russia in April after U.S. intelligence determined that Putin personally ordered a massive SolarWinds hack on federal agencies and for his interference in the 2020 presidential election.
After deflecting from the accusations against him, Putin called for the U.S. and Russia to conduct “joint work” in the field.
“You know, the simplest thing to do would be for us to sit down calmly and agree on joint work in cyber space,” Putin said. “We are willing to engage with international participants, including the United States. You are the ones who have refused to engage in joint work.”
Putin also refused to guarantee that Alexei Navalny, his political opponent whom he recently jailed, would leave prison alive.
“The person you have mentioned, the same kind of measures will apply, not in any way worse to anybody else who happens to be in prison,” Putin said after denying that he was “outlawing dissent” by jailing him on charges that international human rights organizations deem as bogus.
When NBC News journalist Keir Simmons replied that “his name is Alexei Navalny,” Putin quickly responded: “I don’t care. I don’t care.”
The interview comes two days before Biden and Putin are set to meet in Geneva, Switzerland.
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