Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on Sunday on the issues that had been raised by President Putin at the APEC summit in Vietnam, including allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and reports of US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s links to Russia.
Putin-Trump Formal Meeting at APEC Summit
On Sunday, in the aftermath of the APEC summit in Vietnam, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tried to explain the reason a full-scale formal bilateral meeting wasn’t held between US leader Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Peskov has confirmed that the US had attempted to organize such a meeting, however, it did not happen amid protocol measures.
“There is a common diplomatic practice to take turns organizing high-level meetings on the territory of each party,” Peskov said, noting that “the first meeting of the two presidents took place in Hamburg on US territory and the second one was, thus, supposed to be held on Russian territory in accordance with the diplomatic protocol.”
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However, according to him, the proposed time and place suggested by the US side was not relevant for Vladimir Putin.
“Unfortunately, this time the US side has not offered any alternatives, despite all efforts of our Russian colleagues. They proposed only one time and a place suitable only for the US, which was an apartment rented by Washington,” Peskov said.
Meanwhile, the APEC CEO summit was held in Da Nang, Vietnam on November 10-11. On the sidelines of the summit, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had only a brief “on-the-fly” meeting during which they approved a joint statement on Syria.
Russian Meddling in 2016 US Presidential Run
“Russian President [Vladimir Putin] believes that all rumors about Russian interference in the US presidential campaign are based on unverified data,” Peskov told reporters, commenting on the way Putin had expressed his opinion on the issue during his contacts with US leader Donald Trump on the margins of the ASEAN summit in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the US president has called the Russia probe an “witch hunt” aimed to justify the loss of his former rival Hillary Clinton in the election.
The claims of alleged Russian meddling have been fueled by a January report by the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) covering the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails and other data by Wikileaks, including the personal emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Russia has repeatedly denied these allegations, stating that no Russian link has been found in this affair. However, the FBI has launched a probe into the issue, with Robert Mueller appointed as a special counsel to lead the investigation.
Alleged Ties With US Officials
Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow did not have any information about alleged links between Russian enterprises and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, noting that it is absurd.
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“No information has been revealed on the contacts on the official level. In this case, any criticism or reproach toward Moscow, and [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin are absolutely inappropriate,” Peskov said, noting that “[Ross’] shipping company may operate all over the world, and the Russian officials have no data about this.”
Additionally, Peskov dwelt upon the alleged links between Paul Manafort, ex-campaign manager of US President Donald Trump, and Moscow. Manafort has been indicted in the United States for money laundering and working as an unregistered foreign agent for the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, Manafort was working on a commercial basis with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and this has nothing to do with Russia, Peskov said.
Meanwhile, on November 5, the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published material about Russian companies, based on the so-called Paradise Papers leaked offshore database. According to the material, Russian energy company Sibur cooperated with a shipping firm Navigator, in which Ross had a stake.