Putin Says That Jews 'With Russian Citizenship' May Be Behind U.S. Election Meddling

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Jews may be behind alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

In an interview broadcast late Friday, Putin was asked by NBC's Megyn Kelly whether he condoned the electoral interference by 13 Russians named in an indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"Maybe they are not even Russians but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked; maybe they have dual citizenship of a green card; maybe the U.S. paid them for this. How can you know that? I do not know either," he said.

He said he was indifferent to the indictment.

"It's all the same to me. To me it absolutely makes no difference because they do not represent the government," Putin answered, according to the Russian-language interview transcript posted Saturday by the Kremlin.

Speaking to Israeli daily Haaretz, lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova called on the Israeli government to condemn the comments.

"Maybe the Jews meddled in the U.S. elections. Maybe the Jews rule the world, maybe the Jews slaughtered Jews in Poland – all of these claims have one root cause – a hatred of Jews," Svetlova said.

Ronald Klein, a chief of staff of vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, called for Jewish supporters of Donald Trump to pressurise the White House for a reaction to the remark.

"Every Jewish supporter of Donald Trump should be pressing the WH to see if the President agrees with his friend Putin on this statement. And every Jewish person resisting Trump just got another reason to fight even harder," he tweeted Saturday.

In the interview, Putin went on to say that Russia had neither the tools nor the will to meddle in elections.

"First, we have principles whereby we do not allow others to interfere in our domestic affairs and do not get into the affairs of others....Secondly, we don't have this quantity of tools," he said.

In a June 2017 interview with the network, Putin had compared accusations that Russia interfered in the election to anti-Semitism.

"It's like anti-Semitism," he said, comparing Russia's critics to people who would say things like "the Jews are to blame."