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President Vladimir Putin dismissed accusations that Russia was behind the cyberattacks against the United States, calling them a “farce” in an interview with NBC on Monday ahead of a summit with President Joe Biden.
The Russian leader also said he is ready for a prison swap with the United States (the fate of the prisoners will be on the agenda when they meet in Geneva on Wednesday), and said the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny “will not.” treat him worse than anyone else. “
Biden will attend the summit after a week of meetings with allies from the G7, the European Union and NATO, when tensions between Moscow and Washington are at their highest in years due to a long list of disputes.
Asked if Russia is waging a “cyber war” against the United States, Putin replied: “Where is the evidence? This is becoming a farce. “
“We were accused of all sorts of things, interference in elections, cyber attacks and so on and so on, and not once, not once did they bother to provide any evidence or evidence, just baseless accusations.”
American companies, including a major fuel pipeline network, have been targeted by cyber attacks in recent months, often forcing them to temporarily shut down pending ransom payments.
Any prisoner talks will focus on individuals, including former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was jailed for 16 years in Russia for espionage. Whelan called on Biden to organize a prisoner exchange and said in a recent interview that he was the victim of hostage diplomacy.
Another US citizen, Trevor Reid, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 on charges of assaulting Russian police officers while intoxicated.
Moscow may watch the return of notorious Russian arms dealer imprisoned by the United States, Viktor Bout, and contract pilot and alleged drug dealer Konstantin Yaroshenko.
But the White House moved to quickly drown out talk of a “cybercriminals” swap after Biden seemed open to the idea, speaking at a press conference following the G7 meeting in the UK.
“He’s not saying he is going to trade cybercriminals with Russia,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“He was referring to accountability and the idea that responsible countries should be held accountable … not by harboring cybercriminals, but by bringing cybercriminals to justice.”
When asked about Navalny and the accusations of brutally suppressing dissent in Russia, Putin replied that “you present this as dissent and intolerance towards dissent in Russia … we see it in a completely different way.”
Putin called for “predictability and stability” in Russian-American relations, saying that this is “something we have not seen in recent years,” and also called former President Donald Trump “colorful” and “talented man.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)
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