As U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election continues to intensify, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run RIA news agency on Monday that the U.S. is actively attempting to interfere in his country's upcoming presidential election.
"That the United States has a rich tradition of meddling in the internal affairs and electoral processes in many countries throughout the world, including our country, is not a secret for anyone."
—Dmitry Peskov, Russian presidential spokesman
"The Interfax news agency cited Ryabkov as saying the U.S. was looking to create chaos in Russia," CNBC reported. "He also added that U.S.-imposed sanctions were primarily aimed at destabilizing the country. Ryabkov provided no evidence to support these claims."
Asked about Ryabkov's comments on Monday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "it would be not appropriate for us to comment on a Foreign Ministry statement," but added that the U.S. has a "rich tradition" of interfering in the elections of other nations.
"That the United States has a rich tradition of meddling in the internal affairs and electoral processes in many countries throughout the world, including our country, is not a secret for anyone," Peskov said. "This was acknowledged by the Americans themselves."
Accusations of ongoing U.S. meddling comes just two weeks ahead of Russia's presidential election on March 18, which incumbent President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.
Putin has repeatedly denied attempting to meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections.
In an interview last Friday, Putin insisted that the 13 individuals Mueller indicted for conspiring to interfere with America's 2016 election "do not represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities." He went on to say that he would "never" extradite those individuals to the U.S.
"What they did specifically, I have no idea. I do not know what they were guided by," Putin said. "Let them just not talk to the press. Let them provide some materials, specifics and data. We'll be prepared to look at them and talk about it."
Late Sunday, the New York Times reported that even though approximately $120 million has been earmarked for the State Department to combat foreign interference of U.S. elections, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spent exactly none of those funds.