Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down on June 19, 2019, in the Kremlin, for an on the record interview with Oliver Stone. The Russian government has released a transcript of the interview.
Below is Putin's discussion with Stone about the 2016 presidential election.
Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.
Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?
Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.
Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?
Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.
Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?
Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table.
Oliver Stone: You understand that it has huge implications because Mr Trump would be very grateful?
Vladimir Putin: I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future.
Oliver Stone: But that is a noble motive. Unfortunately, the world has degenerated in these two years, with all this backbiting and accusations, dirty fighting. Anyway…
Vladimir Putin: There are no rules at all. It is no holds barred.
Oliver Stone: Well, you have rules. You say no interference.
Vladimir Putin: I have principles.
Oliver Stone: Ok. But you seem to have rules based on those principles.
Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.
Oliver Stone: Ok. Well, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.
Vladimir Putin: Why? You mean, because of these principles?
Oliver Stone: Yes. If you knew something about the election, it would tilt the balance in a very weird way.
Vladimir Putin: I think this is simply unrealistic. I have said so many times.
Oliver Stone: What is unrealistic?
Vladimir Putin: To change anything. If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.
No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.
Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.
Vladimir Putin: They had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.
Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?
Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure they can apply always have a 2 percent edge. You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.
Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.
Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used.
Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?
Vladimir Putin: In the USA?
Oliver Stone: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.
Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.
Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.
Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?
Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters.
* * *
[RW note: Putin is the most level headed guy around. Here he is on the inconsistent moves of Trump]:
Oliver Stone: Ok, but beyond Poroshenko, the United States has a shadow here. The United States knows what he is doing, and supported it.
Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.
Oliver Stone: It is the creation of a strategy of tension that worries me enormously. I have seen this happen in so many places now. I think I read on Monday, the Russian bombers, the Russian SU-57 escorted, what was it, the B-52 bomber, a nuclear bomber, US bomber, close to the Russian borders.
Vladimir Putin: The Su-57 aircraft are just entering service. This is a fifth-generation jet fighter. It was the Su-27 that was mentioned.
Oliver Stone: Do you think that is normal?
Vladimir Putin: Actually, it is sad, probably, but this is common practice. US aircraft did not enter our airspace, and our aircraft did not conduct any high-risk maneuvers. But generally speaking, this is not great. Just look where the Baltic or Black seas are located, and where the USA is. It was not us who approached US borders, but US aircraft that approached ours. Such practices had better stop.
Oliver Stone: In this continuing strategy of tension, there was a report in The New York Times last week that the Obama Administration, before they left office, put in what they call a cyber warfare device. It was inserted in Russian infrastructure in January 2017.
Vladimir Putin: This is being discussed almost openly. It was said Russia would be punished for interfering in the election campaign. We do not see anything extraordinary or unexpected here. This should be followed closely. That is the first thing. The second is I believe that we only need to negotiate how we are to live in this high-tech world and develop uniform rules and means of monitoring each other’s actions. We have repeatedly proposed holding talks on this subject to come to some binding agreement.
Oliver Stone: Continuing that theme of strategy of tension, how is Russia affected by the US-Iranian confrontation?
Vladimir Putin: This worries us because this is happening near our borders. This may destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have very close relations, causing additional refugee flows on a large scale plus substantially damage the world economy as well as the global energy sector. All this is extremely disturbing. Therefore we would welcome any improvement when it comes to relations between the US and Iran. A simple escalation of tension will not be advantageous for anyone. It seems to me that this is also the case with the US. One might think that there are only benefits here, but there will be setbacks as well. The positive and negative factors have to be calculated.
Oliver Stone: Yeah. Scary.
Vladimir Putin: No, this is not scary.
Oliver Stone: You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time.
Vladimir Putin: Last time the situation concerning Iran was not like this. Last time nobody said anything about getting into our energy and other networks. Last time the developments were more positive.
Oliver Stone: The situation is worse now?
Vladimir Putin: Take North Korea, they have also rolled back a bit. Trade wars are unfolding.
Oliver Stone: Venezuela.
Vladimir Putin: Venezuela as well. In other words, regrettably, the situation has not improved, so there is nothing special to be happy about. On the other hand, we feel confident. We have no problems.
Oliver Stone: Well, you are an optimist, and always have been?
Vladimir Putin: Exactly.
Oliver Stone: You are a peacemaker.
Vladimir Putin: Absolutely spot on.
Oliver Stone: So obviously, you have to get together with the Americans, and the Chinese, and the Iranians. I know.
Vladimir Putin: Just do not put the blame on us. Lately no matter what is happening, we always get the blame.
Oliver Stone: Well, the irony is that Mr Trump came to office promising that he was not going to interfere in other countries. He made this overall strategy, he was against the wars that we have started, and ever since he has been in office, it has got worse. Why, one wonders? Is he in charge, or are other people pushing these agendas?
Vladimir Putin: I think he is against this now, too. But life is complicated and diverse. To make the right decision it is necessary to fight for what you believe in.