The View From Moscow On U.S. Hacking Accusations

Russian state television said that U.S. intelligence accusations of Vladimir Putin ordering election meddling are nothing new.


The U.S. intelligence report presented to President-elect Trump on Friday says that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, personally ordered a campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton during the U.S. presidential campaign and to try to help Donald Trump win the election. We’re going to turn now to our Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim.

Lucian, thanks for being with us.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Sure thing, Scott.

SIMON: The report was published when it was nighttime in Moscow. What’s the reaction been today?

KIM: Well, the first thing to know is that it’s a Russian Orthodox Christmas today, so it’s a holiday. Putin celebrated the holiday in an ancient monastery near St. Petersburg. And then he met some local fishermen for a cup of tea. As for state television, they did report on this news. They said it’s more of the same, nothing new. The main goal is to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s election and that the report provided no evidence.

It should be said that Putin has responded to these charges in the past at a press conference a couple of weeks ago. And he really mocked the idea that Russia could have thrown a U.S. election. He said, basically, the Democrats are sore losers and that the information leaked was much more important than how it got out.

SIMON: Lucian, help us understand, are charges like these potentially damaging, or is there an element of pride that they’re even accused?

KIM: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think they’re damaging at all. I think Putin can be quite happy with these results. He had a real problem two years ago after the intervention in Ukraine. Western powers were ignoring and isolating Russia. Obama called the country a regional power. And today, Putin is deciding war and peace in Syria. And, you know, he’s being attributed with powers of influencing a U.S. election. So, in some ways, it makes Russia seem much bigger than it really is.

One thing to keep in mind is that Russians have been told, for some time, that they’re at war with the West, not really a shooting war but an information war, sort of a struggle for influence. So there’s a widespread perception here that Russia is, itself, the victim of a Western conspiracy. So I think you can say, from the Kremlin’s perspective, Russia’s just giving the West a taste of its own medicine. More broadly speaking, I think this report really doesn’t matter very much here in Moscow. People here are waiting for the inauguration of Donald Trump and nothing else really matters.

SIMON: NPR’s Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim, thanks so much for being with us.

KIM: Thank you.