The interview was recorded on May 29 in Paris during the President’s visit to France.
[...] Question: You have mentioned the United States. The allegations of Russia’s interference in the US presidential race raised a political storm in Washington. Similar allegations were also voiced in France. What is your response, especially against the backdrop of recent developments in the US?
Vladimir Putin: I have already commented on this issue many times. There was a question on this topic from one of your colleagues today. He put it very cautiously at the news conference, saying that ‘there are allegations that Russian hackers…’ Who is making these allegations? Based on what? If these are just allegations, then these hackers could be from anywhere else and not necessarily from Russia.
As President Trump once said, and I think that he was totally right when he said it could have been someone sitting on their bed or somebody intentionally inserted a flash drive with the name of a Russian national, or something like that. Anything is possible in this virtual world. Russia never engages in activities of this kind, and we do not need it. It makes no sense for us to do such things. What for?
I have already spoken to three US Presidents. They come and go, but politics stay the same at all times. Do you know why? Because of the powerful bureaucracy. When a person is elected, they may have some ideas. Then people with briefcases arrive, well dressed, wearing dark suits, just like mine, except for the red tie, since they wear black or dark blue ones. These people start explaining how things are done. And instantly, everything changes. This is what happens with every administration.
Changing things is not easy, and I say this without any irony. It is not that someone does not want to, but because it is a hard thing to do. Take Obama, a forward-thinking man, a liberal, a democrat. Did he not pledge to shut down Guantanamo before his election? But did he do it? No, he did not. And may I ask why not? Did he not want to do it? He wanted to, I am sure he did, but it did not work out. He sincerely wanted to do it, but did not succeed, since it turned out to be very complicated.
This is not the main issue, however, even though it is important, since it is hard to fathom that people have been walking there in chains for decades without trial or investigation. Can you imagine France or Russia acting this way? This would have been a disaster. But it is possible in the United States and continues to this day. This refers to the question on democracy, by the way.
I referred to this example just to show that it is not as simple as it may seem. That said, I am cautiously optimistic, and I think that we can and should be able to reach agreements on key issues. [...]