The Kremlin on Tuesday insisted that the resignation of Donald Trump's security adviser Michael Flynn over contacts with the Russian government was Washington's internal affair.
The White House late Monday said Trump had accepted Flynn’s resignation amid allegations the retired three-star general discussed US sanctions strategy with Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak before taking office.
“This is the internal business of the Americans, it is the internal business of President Trump’s administration. This is not our business,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Flynn admitted that he “inadvertently briefed” the now Vice President Mike Pence with “incomplete information” about his calls with Kislyak.
Pence had publicly defended Flynn, saying he did not discuss sanctions, putting his own credibility into question.
US media reported Monday that the Justice Department had warned the White House that Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the contents of his talks with Kislyak, and that it could make him vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
The Kremlin has previously denied that Flynn and Kislyak discussed the lifting of US sanctions.
The resignation of the top aide is a first stunning departure from the president’s inner circle less than a month after his inauguration.
Flynn — who has previously met President Vladimir Putin — was a vocal supporter of a softer policy on Russia after ties plunged over Moscow’s meddling in Ukraine and allegations of interference in the US election.
The Kremlin is hoping that Trump will follow through on his pledge to improve relations with Russia and may eventually wind back damaging sanctions that have battered its economy.
Russian lawmakers were quick to throw their backing behind Flynn after his exit — describing his departure as an attack against attempts to restore ties between Moscow and Washington.
Leonid Slutsky, who heads the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, said it was a “negative signal” for Moscow.
“Even a readiness to have a dialogue with Russians is seen by the hawks in Washington as a thought crime,” senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook.
“Forcing the resignation of the national security advisor for contacts with the Russian ambassador, which is normal diplomatic practice, is not just paranoia but something immeasurably worse,” he added. DM
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