Russia says meddling claims baseless, slams the US

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister trashed accusations of Russian meddling abroad as “baseless” and used the podium at the U.N.’s biggest event to tear into U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela. He later declared that U.S.-Russian relations “are bad and probably at their all-time low.”

In a rapid-fire, unforgiving speech Friday, Sergey Lavrov pounded away at “self-serving” unilateral moves by U.S. President Donald Trump and assailed crippling Western sanctions against Russia as “political blackmail.”

Lavrov deflected accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other meddling abroad — despite mounting evidence of a broad, coordinated influence campaign.

He criticized “baseless accusations of interference in the internal affairs of certain countries” and turned it around against the West, accusing unnamed forces of “overt endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments,” in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia’s neighbors and the Syrian opposition.

He expanded on that at a news conference later, giving examples of U.S. interference that included the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, promoting efforts to replace the 2015 agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to end the violence in eastern Ukraine.

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