MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman on Tuesday issued a blunt denial of U.S. allegations that the Kremlin intervened to help Donald Trump win the presidency, and expressed hope that Moscow will be able to “reset” its relationship with the new administration.
In an interview with RT , Dmitry Peskov dismissed the notion that Moscow had aided Trump – or that it was interfering in other elections — as “absolute nonsense.”
The Trump transition team has dismissed the CIA conclusions of a broad Russian conspiracy, and Peskov said the Kremlin was looking forward to working with the president-elect after the long downturn in U.S.-Russian relations.
“We hope that all the statements that President-elect Donald Trump has made, his declared desire to resume dialogue with Russia, that these will be brought to life, and he will act in these intention,” Peskov said.
Moscow has regularly denied interfering in the elections, especially after U.S. intelligence agencies in October said the Russian government helped provide WikiLeaks with hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff.
Putin dismissed the allegations as “hysteria” intended “only to distract the attention of the American people from the substance of what hackers had put out.”
His aides have questioned the lack of evidence, called the probe politicized and pointed to similar attacks against the Kremlin.
“Every day, Putin’s site gets attacked by tens of thousands of hackers,” Peskov said in October. “Many of these attacks can be traced to U.S. territory. It’s not as though we accuse the White House or Langley of doing it each time it happens.”
Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Putin adviser, said in a recent interview that the Kremlin leader privately enjoys the attention the hacking accusations provide, both as a sign of his political power, as well as for the chaos it causes his adversaries in the United States.
But one senior Russian official, who spoke on background because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said Tuesday that Moscow’s leadership is appalled by the allegations.
“The fact that there are people who are convinced that Russia acted on behalf of Donald Trump is frightening,” the official said. “In the long run it could be very dangerous for people to think that Russia may interfere with other people’s elections.”
But there were some in the Kremlin’s camp who suggested there might be some truth to the allegations. In November, reacting to Trump’s win during a Nov. 9 reception at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said he thought “that Russia helped with WikiLeaks.”
“I don’t know how, specifically, but I think they probably helped [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange,” Markov said in an interview, adding that he did not know how Russia might have helped.
“Everybody in the world is helping Assange,” Markov said in English. “Everybody understands that in this conflict between CIA and Assange, Assange is right, CIA is wrong. So, Vladimir Putin is part of community of all the honest people in the world.”
Some Russian analysts think that supporters of Hillary Clinton are using the allegations of Russian hacking to mount a campaign to dissuade the Electoral College from confirming Trump’s victory.
“Incredible pressure is being put on the electors. There is a true special operation to turn them,” Vladimir Vasiliev, of the Institute of the USA and Canada, commented earlier this month. “The Democrats are doing everything possible to force them not to vote for Trump.”