Moscow says the claim that conversations between Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the US could have influenced Russia’s response to US sanctions is “absurd.”
“Flynn was in no position to request anything of Sergey Ivanovich [Kislyak, Russia’s former US ambassador] let alone to expect any requests to be relayed to Vladimir Putin – the whole thing is completely absurd,” said the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov during a media briefing in Moscow.
In his capacity as part of Donald Trump’s transition team, following Trump’s victory in last November’s presidential election, Flynn has admitted lying to the FBI over the nature of his contact with the Russian diplomat.
The US security services say that he lied when he told them earlier this year that he did not ask Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions” adopted by the outgoing administration last December, which included the expulsion of 35 diplomats.
In the end Russia did postpone its response, but Peskov says that “the decision was taken by Putin alone, and cannot be attributed to any requests or recommendations.”
“What information Putin receives from his ambassadors is of no concern to anyone else,” said Peskov. “The Russian president makes all decisions independently on the basis, as he has said many times, of Russia’s national interest.”