Putin Dismisses US Claims of
June 15, 2021
Russian President Vladimir
Putin is sharply dismissing U.S. claims that Moscow and Russian
hackers are carrying out debilitating cyberattacks on American
companies and government agencies, including demands for
millions of dollars in ransom to restore corporate computer
Putin rejected the claims as “farcical” in a wide-ranging
interview with NBC News. His remarks came just days ahead of his
Wednesday summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva, where
cyberattacks are expected to be a key point of contention.
"We have been accused of all kinds of things," Putin said.
"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."
In April, Biden expelled 10 Russian diplomats and imposed new
sanctions on six Russian technology companies that provide
support to the cyber program run by Putin's intelligence
services linked to the hacking of the SolarWinds information
In May, two key U.S. businesses — Colonial Pipeline, which
transports fuel in the southeastern U.S., and the JBS meat
production company — were targeted in cyberattacks believed to
have originated in Russia. Both Colonial and JBS paid millions
of dollars in ransom demands to restore their business
operations, although U.S. law enforcement officials have
recovered some of the money Colonial paid.
Putin told the state TV channel Rossiya-1 on Sunday that Russia
was willing to extradite cybercriminals on an equal basis with
the U.S., although it was not clear what attacks on Russian
corporate entities he was claiming had originated in the United
Biden said at a news conference in Britain at the end of the G-7
summit of leading industrialized countries that he was "open" to
the idea of a prisoner swap, although he appeared to doubt that
any criminals in the U.S. were committing crimes against
Later, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told
reporters that Biden was "not saying he's going to be exchanging
cybercriminals with Russia."
"What he was saying was that if Vladimir Putin wants to come and
say, 'I'm prepared to make sure that cybercriminals are held
accountable,' Joe Biden is perfectly willing to show up and say
cybercriminals will be held accountable in America, because they
already are," Sullivan said.
Speaking with NBC News for nearly an hour and a half, Putin
offered his thoughts on several other Russian and U.S. issues.
The Russian leader denied ordering the poisoning of now jailed
opposition politician Alexey Navalny with a nerve agent. Navalny
accused the Russian government of being behind the poisoning.
“We don’t have this kind of habit of assassinating anybody,”
Putin said, but he would not guarantee that Navalny would get
out of prison alive.
"Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the
president," Putin said. "He will not be treated any worse than
The Russian leader also made claims sharply at odds with the
circumstances behind the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol
when hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump
rampaged past law enforcement officials, smashed windows,
ransacked offices and scuffled with police as lawmakers were
certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory in last November’s
At a rally shortly before, Trump urged his supporters to “fight
like hell” in confronting lawmakers.
More than 500 people have been arrested, and some face years in
prison if convicted. But Putin claimed they were charged with
criminal offenses only because they were making “political
Others, if they committed no acts of violence or vandalism,
could be handed probation sentences, although only a handful of
the cases have been adjudicated so far.
“Isn't that persecution for political opinions?” Putin said.
Five people linked to the chaos of January 6 were left dead,
with three protesters dying from medical emergencies; a police
officer defending the Capitol dying a day later from natural
causes that may have been exacerbated by the attack on the
building; and one protester shot dead by a police officer who
has been cleared of wrongdoing.
“I want to ask you: Did you order the assassination of the woman
who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a
policeman?” Putin said in the interview. “Do you know that 450
individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? And they
didn't go there to steal a laptop. They came with political
Putin praised Trump as “an extraordinary individual, talented
individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president.
He is a colorful individual."
what he thought of Biden, Putin said he was a professional and
suggested that he could work with him.
"He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics," he
Putin, claiming that the U.S. wrongly attacks Russia with an
array of allegations, said, "I'm surprised that we have not yet
been accused of provoking the Black Lives Matter movement” that
evolved as a major force last year in U.S. protests against
police abuse of minorities.
Asked what he thought about Black Lives Matter, Putin said,
"There are some grounds for it."
"We have always treated with understanding the fight of African
Americans for their rights," said Putin, but added that he did
not approve of any "extreme" behavior on the part of the