Russian leaders had 'contacts' with Trump campaign, minister tells press

Russia's deputy foreign minister made the shocking statement Thursday in an interview with an independent Russian news agency.

Pavel Golovkin/ AP
Traditional Russian wooden dolls called Matreska depict US presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and US presidential candidate Donald Trump displayed in a shop in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

Less than two days after Americans voted in one of the most contentious presidential races in recent memory, a Russian official said Thursday that his government had been in touch with members of US President-elect Donald Trump's staff during the campaign.

The report could send political shockwaves not only across the United States but also across the world, especially in Europe, where leaders have called upon Mr. Trump to clarify whether the United States will continue to back its NATO allies and whether American policies toward Russia will shift under his administration. Those questions are regarded as highly consequential for the European continent, racked by populist movements of their own and an influx of migrants and refugees from war-torn countries.

The precise manner and content of the Russian government's communications with the Trump campaign remain unclear, as the official did not provide details, Reuters reported.

"There were contacts," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax, a privately owned news agency based in Moscow.

The surprising claim comes after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton – whom Mr. Trump defeated in a sweep unexpected by many pollsters – accused Trump of being a "puppet" dangling under the manipulative hand of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it comes after the US government formally accused the Kremlin of meddling in the election by hacking into Democratic party leaders' email accounts.

Mr. Putin has denied both sets of allegations, assuring the American public last month that he has "no intention" of interfering in their democratic process. Such assurances, however, have failed to quell the concerns of European leaders, as The Christian Science Monitor's Elizabeth Pond wrote Wednesday:

Already, the Europeans are shifting down from chronic crisis management to acute damage control. They will try to salvage as much as possible of the transatlantic relationship that has been the bedrock of the West in preserving liberal values and shaping open international institutions in the post-World War II world. In an era when democracies feel especially besieged by a rising, assertive China and a declining, and therefore defiant Russia, they will seek to stabilize a Europe in flux.

At a time when centrist parties have shrunk across the continent, the Europeans will strive to minimize the impetus that Trump’s nativist triumph gives to Europe’s own jubilant populist parties. And they will try, somehow, to regain the trust of all the losers in their own domestic constituencies who feel excluded from the general prosperity in the technological disruption and influx of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees, whom they blame for stealing jobs from them.

While leaders in Europe mourn Clinton's loss, the Russian parliament applauded Wednesday at the news that Trump had won, and Putin told foreign ambassadors that he is ready to fully restore ties with American leaders.

Mr. Ryabkov, the Russian minister, said his country does not have any particular expectations of the new American administration, though he hopes to continue the conversations already underway.

"These working moments and follow-up on this or that matter will depend on the situation and the questions which face us," Ryabkov told Interfax. "But we will of course continue this work after the elections."

Material from Reuters was included in this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Russian leaders had 'contacts' with Trump campaign, minister tells press
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2016/1110/Russian-leaders-had-contacts-with-Trump-campaign-minister-tells-press
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe