Speaking to Kelly in St. Petersburg in a one-on-one interview for her new Sunday night news program, Putin made certain to remind the journalist that the US interferes in the internal affairs of nations all around the world all the time. At the same time, he stressed that it would make absolutely no sense for Russia to try to interfere in the US's internal affairs.
"The United States everywhere, all over the world, actively interferes with the electoral campaigns of other countries," Putin recalled. "Put your finger anywhere on the map of the world, and everywhere you will hear complaints that American officials are interfering in internal electoral processes."
"But I repeat: we have no reason to do that," he stressed. "Presidents come and go, and even the parties in power change, but the main political direction does not change. That's why, in the grand scheme of things, we don't care who is the head of the United States. We know more or less what is going to happen, and so in this regard, even if we wanted to, it wouldn't make sense for us to interfere."
As expected, Russian political observers were watching Putin's latest US media appearance very closely. Bogdan Bezpalko, a member of the Council on Foreign Affairs Under the Russian President, told Radio Sputnik that he got the sense that pre-interview pleasantries aside, the Putin-Kelly interview itself was very tough.
"The conversation was frank, but also rather tough," Bezpalko said. "What was unusual about it was that it was the first time that these allegations [of Russian electoral meddling] were responded to by the head of state himself. Earlier, journalists, political scientists, and all manner of experts had discussed it."
"In other words, here, once again, the absurdity and unsubstantiated character of these accusations was in full force, except this time it was the Russian president who was speaking about it," the observer noted.
"This whole campaign can be characterized as hysteria –as information warfare, and not some provable accusations against our country," Bezpalko said.
Admittedly, it's not all bad, he added. "In some sense, this campaign can probably be seen as a consequence of Russia's growing influence in the world. Russia ended up becoming a key factor not only in the US election campaign, but in US political life in general. Today, the most terrible accusation a politician can be accused of is having connections with Russia – contacts with Russian diplomats."
"Here it turns out that any contact with Russian representatives causes a wild barrage of hysteria; this has been turned into perhaps the main instrument in US politics," the expert concluded.
Kelly's complete interview with Putin, which spends ten minutes of its 11 minute run time on allegations about Russian meddling in domestic US politics, can be found here.