Russian President Vladimir Putin told an American journalist that he “couldn’t care less” if Russian citizens interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. When asked about the indictments filed against Russian citizens, he replied: “Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship.”

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin Photo Credit: EPA

In a rare interview with NBC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he “couldn’t care less” if citizens of his country interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. Speaking to the news agency’s Megyn Kelly in Moscow, Putin said that if Russians did in fact meddle in the election, they did so without any guidance or instruction from the Kremlin.

“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin said, according to an NBC translator, when asked about the Russian individuals and Russian-owned companies that were indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller. “There are 146 million Russians. So what? … I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. … They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

The interview was aired on Friday evening, days before the 2018 Russian presidential election. Throughout the interview, Putin continued to dismiss the claims that the meddling had come at the orders of the Russian government. “Could anyone really believe that Russia, thousands of miles away … influenced the outcome of the election? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous even to you?” Putin said. “It’s not our goal to interfere. We do not see what goal we would accomplish by interfering. There’s no goal.”

Putin also stated that he has not seen any evidence indicating that the indicted Russians and Russian companies broke Russian law, stressing that no one can be prosecuted in his country unless they have violated a law, according to a full transcript of the interview that the Kremlin released. In addition, Putin suggested that the 13 people who were indicted may not even be Russians, suggesting that they could be “Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship.”