Putin on U.S. election hack charge: ‘Read my lips: No’

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emphatically denied allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election and said Moscow would maintain hopes of improving relations while waiting for political infighting in Washington to stop.

Putin also said he is ready to meet with President Donald Trump in Finland if that country hosts an Arctic leaders’ summit, but added that he would wait longer if needed.

“We are seeing what’s going on. They are preventing the new president from fulfilling his campaign promises on many issues: health care, other issues, international relations, ties with Russia,” Putin said in remarks at a forum in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk. “We are waiting for the situation to normalize and become more stable. And we aren’t interfering in any way.”

The Kremlin had hoped for a thaw in relations with the United States with Trump’s election, but the congressional investigation of possible links between his campaign and Russia has dashed expectations of any quick improvement.

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As the U.S. Senate intelligence committee opened a hearing Thursday on the allegations of Russian meddling on Trump’s behalf, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said Putin “ordered a deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine our election.”

In his strongest statement yet on the subject, Putin dismissed what he called “endless and groundless” accusations against Russia.

Pressed about the allegations at the forum by CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore, who hosted the discussion, Putin answered by quoting former President George H.W. Bush.

Putin said: “Read my lips: No.”

For emphasis, he pronounced the last word in English.

“This anti-Russian card is being played in the interests of some political forces inside the United States with an aim to strengthen and consolidate their positions,” Putin said, without naming…

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