WASHINGTON (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said hackers trying to influence last year's United States election could have been from anywhere, questioning findings by American intelligence that Russia was behind the operation, according to an interview aired on Friday (June 2).
"Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia... even in America, Latin America," he told NBC News, which previewed an interview with the Russian leader that will be broadcast in full on Sunday.
"They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States, who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, on to Russia.
"By some calculations it was convenient for them to release this information, so they released it, citing Russia. Could you imagine something like that? I can."
US intelligence agencies have accused Putin of ordering a hacking and influence campaign to tilt last year's election in favour of Republican Donald Trump, after the billionaire pledged to boost ties with Moscow.
Speaking at Russia's annual showcase economic forum in Saint Petersburg on Friday, Putin slammed accusations that Moscow meddled in the election.
"This useless and harmful chatter needs to stop," the Kremlin strongman said.
"This is a transferral, I repeat, of internal political squabbling in the United States onto the international arena," he said.