SOCHI (Russia) • Russian President Vladimir Putin said that US President Donald Trump had not passed on any secrets to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week, and that he could prove it.
Israel, which was the initial source of the intelligence that Mr Trump provided to Russia, weighed in on its intelligence relationship with the United States without mentioning the controversy directly.
Mr Putin's unusual quip on domestic politics in the US came on Wednesday during a news conference at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he joked that Mr Lavrov was remiss for not passing on what he made clear he believed were non-existent secrets.
"I spoke to him (Lavrov) today," Mr Putin said with a smile. "I will be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia's intelligence services. It was very bad of him."
On a more serious note, Mr Putin, who said Moscow rated Mr Lavrov's meeting with Mr Trump "highly", said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Lavrov over to US lawmakers if that would help reassure them.
A Kremlin aide, Mr Yuri Ushakov, later told reporters that Moscow had in its possession a written record of the conversation, not an audio recording.
Complaining about what he said were signs of "political schizophrenia" in the US, Mr Putin said Mr Trump was not being allowed to do his job properly.
QUIP ON SECRETS
I spoke to him (Lavrov) today. I will be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia's intelligence services. It was very bad of him.
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, joking that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was remiss for not passing on what he made clear he believed were non-existent secrets.
"It is hard to imagine what else these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next," he said. "What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans.
"Either they don't understand the damage they are doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt."
Russia has repeatedly said that anti-Russian politicians in the US are using groundless fears of closer ties with Moscow to sabotage any rapprochement and damage Mr Trump in the process.
In Jerusalem, a spokesman for the Premier's office said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Trump spoke by phone on Tuesday, emphasising that they discussed only Mr Trump's trip to Israel next week.
But as the news emerged that Israel was the initial source of the intelligence provided to Russia, other Israeli officials spoke of their commitment to continuing security cooperation between their country and Washington.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said security ties would continue to be "unprecedented". "The security relationship between Israel and our greatest ally the United States is deep, significant and unprecedented in volume," Mr Lieberman wrote on Twitter.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE