Ex-Russian envoy denies discussing sanctions with US counterparts
Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser over controversy about earlier talks with Sergey Kislyak
Russia’s former ambassador to the United States said Saturday that his conversations with Michael Flynn – who was forced to resign as US national security adviser amid a controversy over those talks – were only about “simple things” with “no secrets.”
Sergey Kislyak also said in his interview with state-run broadcaster Russia 24 that he did not discuss sanctions with his US counterparts, an assertion that doesn’t appear to mesh with reports that US spy agencies found Kislyak had such talks with Flynn.
“Just simple things,” Kislyak, who ended his service as ambassador in July, said when he was asked what he and Flynn discussed. “There are a few topics that are important to US-Russia cooperation.”
“First of all, it’s terrorism,” Kislyak said. “This was one of the topic we discussed. This conversation was proper, calm and absolutely transparent. There were no secrets, at least on our side.”
When pressed about the talks’ contents, Kislyak said: “I didn’t come here to testify.”
“We don’t comment on specific conversations,” he said. “And we give them the right to decide what they want to be public and what they don’t want to be public.”
But Kislyak added he had “instructions not to discuss … sanctions” with his counterparts.
“We did not discuss sanctions with anyone. … We do not discuss or bargain on sanctions, because we believe that they were initially introduced illegally, aggressively in (a) political sense of the way. It’s partially their problem,” Kislyak said.
Sources have told CNN that Flynn, then the incoming US national security adviser, talked with Kislyak about existing US sanctions against Russia in December. It is illegal for unauthorized private citizens to negotiate with foreign governments on behalf of the United States.
Flynn assumed the post in January but resigned the next month after reports emerged that he misled administration officials about his talks with the Russian ambassador.