Moscow says US claims that it is meddling in the presidential election are 'flattering', but false

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed claims made by the US that Moscow is meddling in the American election  as "baseless".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed claims made by the US that Moscow is meddling in the American election as "baseless". PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday (Oct 12) said that US claims that Moscow is meddling in the American election process are "flattering" but baseless.

Mr Lavrov shrugged off US allegations that Russia has directed cyber attacks against American political organisations in a bid to influence the Nov 8 vote.

"It's flattering of course to get this kind of attention for a regional power, as President Obama called us some time ago," Mr Lavrov told CNN. "Now everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia which is running the (US) presidential debate."

But Mr Lavrov insisted that there is not a "single fact, a single proof" to back Washington's accusations.

President Vladimir Putin also struck back at Washington on Wednesday.

The Kremlin strongman insisted that the US accusations were aimed at stirring "hysteria" over Russia to "manipulate public opinion" and distract from issues uncovered by leaked documents.

Last week, the Obama administration formally accused the Russian government of trying to "interfere" with the American election, and vowed to respond at an undisclosed time and place.

A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that Washington would ensure that its "response is proportional".

"If they decided to do something, let them do it," Mr Lavrov said.

In the CNN interview, Mr Lavrov also commented on lewd remarks by Republican candidate Donald Trump in a 2005 video in which he boasted about his ability to grope women as he pleases and said he could "grab them by the pussy".

"There are so many pussies around your presidential campaign on both sides that I prefer not to comment," Mr Lavrov said, stressing that English was not his first language and he was not sure he would sound "decent", CNN reported.

The Kremlin was propelled to the heart of American politics in July after Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign blamed Russia for an embarrassing leak of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee.

Russia has been accused of favouring Mr Trump - who has praised Mr Putin and pledged better ties with Mocow - over the more hawkish Mrs Clinton.

Russia's relations with the United States have sunk to their post-Cold War nadir over the conflict in Ukraine and stalled efforts to end the five-year Syrian war.