Moscow denies contact between Kremlin and Donald Trump campaign

US national security adviser Michael Flynn forced to resign over confirmation of contact

The Kremlin denied that Russian intelligence officers were in close contact with Donald Trump's team during his campaign last year, as repercussions continued after the US administration's national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign.

Reports in the New York Times and CNN allege the contacts with intelligence officials during Mr Trump's campaign were "not based on any facts", said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for president Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday.

“Don’t read the papers in the morning,” said Mr Peskov. “These are just laughable allusions going around.”

Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's one-time campaign manager, has denied speaking to Russian intelligence. US media did not name the other Trump aides said to have been in contact with the unspecified Russian officers.


The allegations have followed Mr Flynn’s forced resignation as national security adviser over his dealings with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington, less than a month after the US president took office.

The retired general acknowledged he had given Mike Pence, US vice-president, incomplete information about phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the US. The US justice department told the White House that it believed this could make Mr Flynn vulnerable to blackmail.

Media response

Seemingly stung by the departure of Mr Flynn, considered one of the most pro-Russian officials in Mr Trump’s cabinet, Russian media and former officials claimed on Wednesday that the US security establishment was waging a campaign against the White House.

"This is disinformation, there's an information war against Trump in which, as we can see, all means are [considered] necessary," Nikolai Kovalev, former head of the FSB, the KGB's successor agency, told Interfax. "These political games will continue as long as anti-Russian sentiment has a serious presence in the American establishment," he added.

State television claimed that Mr Flynn had been a victim of a witch-hunt.

"Flynn was undone by the fact that he might have just dialled a number," the Rossiya channel said. "That's common practice that nonetheless becomes a sin in liberal America if you're talking about Russia. "

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, said Mr Trump’s opponents were “using Flynn’s resignation for a new wave of hysteria about Russia”.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, one of Russia's most popular tabloids, compared Mr Flynn's resignation with Stalin's purges during the Great Terror.

“All former, current, and future American officials have been sent an absolutely unambiguous signal: attempts to restore relations with Russians is a deathly risky career move,” the paper said.

Crimea status

Russian officials were also visibly ruffled by White House spokesman Sean Spicer's claim on Tuesday that Mr Trump expects Moscow to "return Crimea". Mr Peskov said the Kremlin would refuse to negotiate the status of the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014 amid widespread international condemnation.

Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said that Russia had "decided too soon, for all our unconditional sympathy to President Trump's constructive rhetoric, that he's pro-Russian in some way – he's pro-American." Mr Slutsky held out hope that Mr Trump would change his mind in the "next few weeks or months".

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house, said he hoped Mr Trump would stick to his campaign vows to restore ties with Moscow, which he claimed had been a reason for his victory.

"He needs to enact his campaign platform, he said everything in his campaign platform: restore relations with Russia and China and fight terrorism. When they enact the campaign platform, everything'll be fine," said Mr Volodin.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017