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U.S. Intelligence Wrong About Hacks, Russian Ambassador Says

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WASHINGTON – Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak denied any Russian government involvement in the hacking of U.S. political organizations such as the Democratic National Committee and said U.S. intelligence suggesting otherwise is incorrect.

He described the overall relationship between the U.S. and Russia as being at its “lowest point” since the end of the Cold War.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security recently said they are “confident” the Russian government was behind the hacks. The Intelligence Community and DHS said only Russia’s “senior-most officials could have authorized” the hacking of emails at U.S. political organizations such as the DNC, based on the “scope and sensitivity.”

The ambassador said U.S. intelligence is wrong.

“It is not correct,” he said at a discussion on U.S. and Russia relations hosted by Johns Hopkins University.

“We have seen a number of statements by our colleagues in American intelligence on a number of issues that weren’t exactly true in history. I can give you a number of examples,” Kislyak added.

He mentioned the U.S. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that turned out to be incorrect as well as the strike on a Syrian Army position by U.S.-led coalition forces.

“These things happen,” he said.

Kislyak reacted to allegations that Russia is trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

“We are watching very carefully the election campaign in this country,” Kislyak said. “We do not interfere into internal affairs in the United States, not by my statements, not by electronic or other means.”

He declined to comment on how U.S. and Russia relations could change depending on who wins the presidential election.

“When it comes to the implication of the elections in the United States, it’s something I’m not planning to discuss,” he said.

Given that the U.S. intelligence report concluded “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized” such hacks, PJM asked the ambassador which senior Russian officials could have been responsible.

“None,” he replied. “The government … isn’t involved in that kind of thing.”

Kislyak was asked if the U.S. government has provided any evidence to Russia to back up its intelligence estimate about the hacks.

Speaking in Russian, Kislyak said that America has not presented any evidence on any of those issues, according to a translation from a Russian-American reporter.

During the event, Kislyak was asked about the state of relations between the two countries and if there is a risk of nuclear war.

“I do not share the view that the risk of nuclear war today is high because even with the current differences, I think we have enough reasonable people on both sides not to allow one. Having said so, I also would underline that the quality of the relations currently between us in general is certainly the lowest point since the end of the Cold War. I agree with this,” he said.

“The risks of miscalculations have increased. I agree with that, especially with your forces being deployed, NATO forces being deployed, next to our border is sometimes in a very — how shall I put it in a polite way? A strange way to show up the strength of the United States, almost beating of the chest, say 100 meters from the checkpoint on the Estonia and Russia border at 150 kilometers from St. Petersburg,” he said.

Kislyak said those actions have created “a lot of determination in Russia to be prepared for anything, and as a result we are certainly increasing our presence in the western part of Russia.”