Putin said Washington had tried to influence Russian elections for years.
Putin said Washington had tried to influence Russian elections for years.

Former FBI director James Comey presented no evidence to prove that Russia had meddled in the US presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, adding that instead Washington had tried to influence Russian elections for years.

Putin was referring to Comey's testimony to the US Senate's Intelligence Committee.

In a televised question and answer session with Russians, Putin said it was "very strange" for a former FBI chief to release details of his conversations with the US president to the media.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis says that Putin jokingly offered asylum to the sacked FBI director.

Dialogue with US

Putin said that Russia was ready for a constructive dialogue with the United States and "We do not view USA as our enemy."Moscow and Washington can cooperate on issues including the non-proliferation of weapons and the Syria crisis, he added.The Russian president also criticised the US senate approval of new sanctions against Moscow. Now a draft law to toughen up the sanctions has emerged in the US Senate. Why? Nothing extraordinary has happened (in Russia). Why they started to talk about these sanctions out of the blue? This is, of course, evidence of ongoing political infighting in the US — Russian President Vladimir Putin"If it wasn't for Crimea, other problems, they would have invented something else to deter Russia."

TRT World's Daria Bondarchuk has more.

"As far as the endless extension of some restrictions are concerned: if our partners lift sanctions on our economy, we should do the same, otherwise we will face problems within the World Trade Organisation," Putin said.

On Syria

Russia's medium-term plans in Syria include improving capability of the Syrian armed forces which would allow to relocate Russian troops in the country to the existing Russian bases, Putin said.

"We aim to establish a process a political settlement [in Syria] between all the sides involved," he said.

He said that after boosting the capability of the Syrian military, Russia's aviation will continue helping it where necessary.

Putin also said Russia's military industrial complex had benefited greatly from testing its latest weapons in Syria. Combined with this, the experience acquired by the Russian army in Syria, is "priceless," he said.

Bridge to Crimea

Construction of a bridge to connect mainland Russia with Crimea is on schedule, Putin said.

"The Crimea bridge is being built on schedule and even slightly ahead of it," he said.

The construction of the 19 km road-and-rail bridge across the Kerch Strait is being overseen by Stroygazmontazh, a company controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, Putin's former judo sparring partner.

The road segment is meant to be operational by the end of next year.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

On his family

Putin also talked about providing incentive measures for young mothers.

"We have to think about incentive measures for young mothers who give birth to their first child," Putin said.

"A complex of measures is needed [to boost demography]."

During the talk he discussed his family and grandchildren as well.

"My children, my daughters, live here, in Russia, in Moscow, despite all the rumours. And I have grandchildren. They also live a normal life, daughters are engaged in science, education. They don't try to get into politics, they live a normal, common life," he said.

As far as the grandchildren are concerned. Some are going to kindergarten... You know what the matter is? I don't want them to grow as some princes by blood, I want them to grow into normal people. For this, they need a normal interaction among children. Once I reveal their age and name, they will be quickly identified and they won't be left alone... I had a second grandson born recently — Russian President Vladimir Putin
Source: Reuters