Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that US officials have failed to provide any evidence to prove that Moscow interfered in the American presidential race.
Instead, he suggested, the allegations had been invented by former president Barack Obama’s “small-hearted and vengeful” administration to poison future US-Russian ties.
“They put this time bomb in US-Russia relations. I did not expect that from a Nobel Peace Prize winner,” Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations on Thursday.
Lavrov said that he had asked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to provide proof that the Kremlin had covertly intervened to support Donald Trump’s campaign.
Tillerson replied that the evidence was part of a confidential investigation, Lavrov claimed, scorning the idea and suggesting any real proofs would have been leaked.
“And now the immense potential of our bilateral relationship stands there in vain, and our relations are contracting due to Russophobic hysteria,” Lavrov complained.
US officials said that a bilateral meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov had focused on improving coordination between the US and Russian militaries in Syria to avoid inadvertent clashes.
A US special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened to back Trump.
The Kremlin allegedly favored the business mogul over his opponent Hillary Clinton, who had backed sanctions against Russia for rights abuses and interference in Ukraine.
US officials think Russian agents hacked email accounts associated with Clinton’s campaign and leaked damaging information, amplified online by an army of paid “trolls.”
Russia has fiercely denied this. But Mueller’s inquiry has destabilized US politics, angered Trump and contributed to a deep chill in ties between Washington and Moscow.