Kremlin calls idea that Trump worked for Moscow ‘absurd’

MOSCOW (AP) — Top Russian officials ridiculed the idea that United States (US) President Donald Trump could have worked for Russia’s interests, dismissing them on Wednesday as “absurd” and “stupid”.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a news conference that US newspaper reports about Trump withholding details of his meetings with Russia’s President and an FBI investigation of whether he was working on Moscow’s behalf reflected a plunge in journalism standards.

Trump said this week that he never worked for Russia and repeated his claim that an ongoing investigation of his ties to Russia was a hoax.

Asked if Russia would consider releasing minutes from President Vladimir Putin’s one-on-one talks with Trump, Lavrov said doing so would defy the basic culture of diplomacy and dismissed the possibility.

Calls for Moscow to provide the minutes are illegitimate meddling in the US President’s constitutional right to conduct foreign policy, he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. – AP

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, similarly derided media reports of Trump’s possible promotion of Russian interests.

“What kind of nonsense are you asking about?” Ushakov snapped when asked if Trump was a Russian agent. “How can one comment on such a stupid thing? It has reached such a scale that it’s awkward to even talk about it.”

“How can a president of the United States be an agent of another country, just think yourself,” Ushakov said at a briefing.

The Kremlin’s hopes for better relations with the US under Trump have been shattered by ongoing investigations into the allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Ushakov said Russia-US relations were currently at a level that “can’t be worse”.

Lavrov, who was speaking at a separate news conference, scoffed at the charges levelled against Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, saying Flynn only talked to the Russian ambassador to protect US interests.

“It’s quite obvious that the situation is absurd,” Lavrov said of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

He also criticised Trump for saying he intended to opt out of a key nuclear pact over alleged Russian violations.

Lavrov said the US ignored Moscow’s offer to inspect a Russian missile that Washington claimed violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Russia made the offer during talks in Geneva this week, he said. US negotiators stonewalled, repeating Washington’s demand for Russia to destroy the 9M729 missile it claims runs afoul of the pact.

The United States says it will suspend its treaty obligations if Russian does not come into compliance by February 2.

US Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson, who led the American side in the talks, said on Wednesday that Moscow’s offer was inadequate.

“To see the missile does not confirm the distance that missile can travel, and at the end of the day that’s the violation of the treaty,” she told reporters.