This week's perhaps overly dramatic announcement Wednesday night by the heads of multiple federal agencies - foremost among them Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe - alleging new major efforts by Russia and Iran to interfere in the US presidential election formed a key question and talking point by debate moderator Kristen Welker Thursday night.
Welker even referenced as somehow undisputed and settled "truth" the now debunked "Russian bounties" story. Over a month ago the Pentagon and other intelligence heads concluded after an exhaustive investigation that there's simply no evidence to suggest Russian military intelligence paid Afghan fighters to target Americans.
Russia was certainly paying attention to the debate and was not amused. The Kremlin on Friday blasted what it said was "Russophobia" at the center of the debate.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Friday that "competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably."
"We are fully aware of this and can only express regret," he added as quoted in TASS.
"After all, probably, it is the American electorate who is the target audience of these debates, that is, common Americans. It is up to them to decide who won the debate, not us," the spokesman said.
Indeed the American public is by and large likely growing tired of the endless Russia scapegoating too.
Corporate droid Kristin Welker says the laughable claim that Iran emailed threats to US lawmakers was “confirmed” by the same intel officials who made it up. Biden then spouts the discredited tale about Russian bounties, leading Trump to brag of arming Ukraine. National dementia.— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 23, 2020
National security pundit and research fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies Richard Hanania had this to say about just how vapid foreign policy questions have become in this election (when they are offered at all):
Notice how the entire debate on foreign policy was about who was "nicer" to China, Russia, or some other "enemy," not say whether we should go to war more or less often. There's a primitiveness and stupidity surrounding discussions of foreign policy that we don't accept elsewhere, he pointed out.
Over the years Putin himself has increasingly mocked and laughed about the degree to which he personally gets blamed for almost all ills of American society - from election meddling to "weaponizing" race relations to supposedly seeking to take out the national power grid.