MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On June 1, Putin said that hackers could be anywhere in the world, and that Russia on a state level did not engage in such activities. The Russian leader added that it was theoretically possible that nationals of a certain state might have patriotic feelings and decide to target people or organizations that make negative statements about their country.
"A number of recent statements cause concern. I mean the statement of President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin, who said that a group of patriotic specialists may be engaged in conducting such cyberattacks… We in our turn need to know that the Russian party is ready to prevent such interference as otherwise, such a statement will not be really calming for us," Erler said after meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Russia's Federation Council.
On Thursday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that if Russia tried to interfere in German elections, it would be harmful to both states.
Media reports about Russia's interference in elections of foreign states were spurred on by the US 2016 presidential election, with the outgoing administration and the US intelligence community claiming, albeit without proof, that Russia meddled in the November vote.
In November 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she did not rule out the possibility of Russian hackers interfering in the general elections in Germany. In January, German media reported that the German foreign intelligence agency (BND) had suspicions that Russia could try to influence the outcome of 2017 elections across Europe.
However, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed during his visit to Moscow in March that Berlin had no proof or indication of Russia meddling in the country's election.
Russia has repeatedly refuted all allegations, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stating that there is no proof of the accusations, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Moscow has never interfered in foreign states' internal affairs and is not intending to do so in the future.