Europe

Putin scorns US claims over Trump-Russia ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg, 2 June 17 Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Putin delivered a blistering attack on US claims about Russian meddling

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Americans must stop their "hysteria" about an alleged Russian deal with US President Donald Trump.

"This is simply some kind of hysteria. You can't seem to stop. Do we need to give you a tablet?" he said in a debate at the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

A US journalist had asked him if Russia had reached a secret deal with Mr Trump to soften US sanctions on Russia.

Mr Putin again denied Russian meddling in the election that Mr Trump won.

The allegations of Russian interference in the presidential election were "harmful chatter" detrimental to international relations, security and the fight against terrorism, he said.

"This is an attempt to resolve domestic political issues by using foreign policy instruments," he said.

"It's easier to say 'we're not to blame - the Russians are to blame, they interfered in our election, and we're good'. This reminds me of anti-Semitism. The Jews are blamed for everything," he added.

The US intelligence agencies say the hacking of the US Democrats last year bore the hallmarks of Russian state security services.

President Trump's campaign aides are currently being investigated over possible collusion with the Russian government.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Putin urged US business leaders to help improve relations

Plea to US business

Mr Putin accused the West of carrying out "crude and systematic interference in Russian affairs for many years".

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Earlier, Mr Putin urged US business executives to help improve Russian-US relations, amid continuing Western sanctions.

He said those relations had hit "their lowest point since the Cold War".

"I want to pass the buck back to you - help us to restore a normal political dialogue," he said at the forum.

Besides the US allegations of Russian meddling, tensions have risen during the Ukraine and Syria conflicts.

Russia remains under US and EU sanctions because of its involvement in the Ukraine conflict and annexation of Crimea.

Western governments back Sunni Arab and Kurdish groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed militarily by Russia and Iran. But Islamic State (IS) jihadists are being targeted by both the West and Russia.

"I appeal to you and the US side: help the newly-elected president too, and his administration," Mr Putin told the US business leaders.

Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak is at the centre of US suspicions about Kremlin contacts with the Trump team.

Mr Putin poured scorn on the allegations. "They're talking such drivel... Our ambassador met someone. What's an ambassador supposed to do? It's his job."

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