Every country attempts to influence every other country’s elections, on some level. Putin’s statement to Trump is, on many levels, a bold lie.
As a longtime technical observer of Russian information warfare, Putin’s statement is a repeat of similar statements he’s made since 2007. ‘We responded to provocation(s) in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, Donbas, and Transnistria.’ ‘We didn’t shoot down MH17’. ‘We don’t have troops inside Crimea’. ‘We didn’t cheat at doping in Sochi’. The list is lengthy, the intent is to deceive, his credibility is negligible.
Perhaps Putin’s intent is not to deceive, but to deny. “Prove it” has become a reliable fallback position. Cyber attacks against Estonia. Cyber attacks against the US. Against Ukraine. Against all the countries of the world. “Prove it”, and we can’t, don’t, or won’t. The most likely answer is that we will not, we won’t, make an audacious accusation with evidence in hand. That would intimidate the bear, who rattles the nuclear saber whenever confronted.
On Monday, Russia is going to announce a response to the US telling Sputnik and RT to register as agents of foreign influence by censuring RFE, VOA, and CNN. Nevermind that CNN is a commercial entity. Russia does these brash, bold, and brazen actions because it can. It continues because the West is incapable of holding up an iron glove that says ‘stop’. We are too weak, too feckless, and too timid to stand up to a playground bully. Our leaders lack the guts, the temerity, and the resolve, all exacerbated by a politically correct culture.