The Latest: Putin denies meddling in US elections

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – The Latest on comments Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow didn’t meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and never will.

Speaking Thursday at a meeting with international news agency chiefs, Putin said “we didn’t meddle, we aren’t meddling and we will not meddle in any elections.”

Putin and other Russian officials have staunchly denied any interference with the U.S. vote, even though U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered evidence of a Kremlin operation to interfere with the 2016 vote. He charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers with breaking into Democratic Party emails, and also indicted other Russians who used phony social media accounts to spread divisive rhetoric and to undermine the U.S. political system.

Putin argued that the government can’t ban Russian citizens from expressing their views online.

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4:10 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he wasn’t offended by that Britain did not invite him to ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Speaking Thursday at a meeting with international news agency chiefs, Putin said he has “plenty of other things to do.”

Putin hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping Wednesday as many other world leaders gathered on the south coast of England to mark the anniversary.

Putin did attend the 70th anniversary commemorations in France five years ago. Russia was not involved in D-Day but the Soviet effort was crucial in defeating the Nazis on the Eastern Front.

Putin emphasized the Soviet role in WWII, saying that D-Day marked the opening of a “second front,” while “we had the first one.”

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4 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says it will be up to the Venezuelan people to decide whether President Nicolás Maduro should stay in power.

Speaking at Thursday’s meeting with international news agency chiefs in St. Petersburg, Putin said “the crisis in Venezuela should be settled by the Venezuelan people.”

He added that “through dialogue, consultations and cooperation between various political forces, the Venezuelan people themselves must decide whether Mr. Maduro should stay in power or not.”

Russia has staunchly backed Maduro, while the U.S. and several dozen other nations have thrown their support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó and recognized him as interim president.

Putin said Guaidó is a “nice person,” but added that his leadership claim has created a precedent that could “lead to chaos across the world.”

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3:10 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States has shunned talks on extending a key nuclear arms reduction pact, raising new threats to global security.

Speaking during a meeting with international news agencies’ chiefs at the sidelines of an investment forum in St. Petersburg, the Russian leader said that Washington has been reluctant to begin talks on extending the New START pact, set to expire in 2021.

The pact that was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Putin also criticized the U.S. withdrawal from another key arms pact, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and rejected Washington’s claims of Russian violations of the agreement.

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3 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin has told reporters that Moscow has no intention to deploy its troops or set up military bases in Venezuela.

He added that Russian experts have been in Venezuela to service Russian-made weapons bought by Caracas.

Putin, who was meeting Thursday with the head of international news agencies, was responding to a question about a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this week that said Moscow had informed Washington it had pulled out its personnel from Venezuela.

“We aren’t creating any bases or sending troops there,” Putin said. “But we will be keeping our obligations in the sphere of military and technical cooperation.”

The Russian leader said the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela have hurt ordinary people and warned Washington against using force.

Journalists watch a TV broadcast of a meeting of Russian president Vladimir Putin with heads of news agencies at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, June 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
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