Moscow — The Kremlin on Monday cited the end of Robert Mueller’s inquiry into possible Trump administration collusion with Russia as exoneration. A few Russian columnists and politicians posted comments within an hour of Attorney General Barr’s letter going public on Sunday night, but in general the reaction from Moscow has been muted.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russia’s “principled position on this matter is well known: our country has not interfered in the domestic affairs of other countries, including the United States.”
The Russian morning newspapers didn’t mention Mueller at all, though they may have gone to press before the story broke.
The most senior politician to speak out was Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s senate. In a Facebook post, he wrote that the Mueller probe’s conclusion, “unties President Trump’s hands to re-set relations with Russia.”
“The results of Mueller’s investigation are a disgrace for the U.S. and its political elites,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the senate’s information committee, said in a tweet. “All of the accusations were proved to be trumped up.”
Some commentators on the Russian airwaves implied that, if President Trump did not collude with Russia, then Russia had done nothing wrong. Even Kosachev pointed out that this was a false conclusion.
“There is no reason for us to celebrate… here in Russia — the accusations against us still stand,” he said.
Indeed Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation did lead to charges against 26 Russian nationals and three Russian companies over alleged election interference.
Still, Kosachev noted: “If there’s enough good will, there’s a lot we can fix. I’m not ruling out (Trump proposing) initiatives favorable towards Russia in the near future, because the Mueller report strengthens team Trump’s hand.”
But political analysts and players in the Russian capital still appeared to be looking for signs that the end of the Muller investigation might mark a new pivot point in U.S.-Russia relations.
Pushkov, the Russian senator, tweeted: “From the very start (the Mueller investigation) was biased, artificial, provocative, conspiratorial, designed-to-fuel-hatred towards Trump campaign. Its second goal was to demonize Russia and prevent any US moves towards better relations with Moscow.”