NBC’s Megyn Kelly has tried to establish herself as the US media’s preeminent “Putin whisperer” since confronting the Russian president last year over allegations he sanctioned interference by hacking groups in the 2016 US presidential election. In a formal interview with the Russian president, Kelly asked the Russian leader about the latest development in the ongoing controversy, Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities for election meddling.
Ignoring that the indictment stated that the alleged activities of the trolls at the Internet Research Agency had no impact on the outcome of the election, Kelly insisted on pressing the Russian president about why Russia hadn’t acted to prosecute the men – including Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman.
Putin pointed out that no formal requests had been made by the US government, and no effort to share the incriminating information had been made.
“I have to see first what they’ve done. Give us a document, give us an official request” Putin said in the NBC interview adding that “We can not respond to that if they do not violate Russian laws.”
Kelly responded by listing some of the allegations, before Putin insisted that they shouldn’t be presented to him personally – but to Russia’s general prosecutor.
“This has to go through official channels, not through the press, or yelling and hollering in the United States Congress,” Putin said.
The broadcast aired a day after Putin grabbed headlines in Western media by revealing that Russia had recently finished testing a range of nuclear weapons that were capable of evading US anti-ballistic missile batteries, showing animated footage and digital representations of the missiles’ capabilities striking Florida which prompted an uproar at the US State Department.
Meanwhile, even though Russia has repeatedly criticized the US and NATO for installing anti-ballistic missile shields in Eastern Europe that Russia says more closely resemble offensive missile batteries, Putin pushed back against questions about whether the US and Russia were entering a new Cold War. The Russian leader said anybody spreading these accusations are more concerned with propaganda than accurate representations of the relationships between the two countries.
“My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not analysts. They do propaganda.”
Repeating a claim that has been made by many Russian officials, Putin said the arms race between the US and Russia began when George W Bush withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002.
“If you were to speak about an arms race, then an arms race began exactly at the time and moment the U.S. opted out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” he said.
When asked, Putin refused to answer direct questions about the missile tests, saying only that “every single weapons system that I have discussed today easily surpasses and avoids a missile defense system.”
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