Russian Federation calls USA allegations of election meddling absurd

The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, on Thursday marked the 29th anniversary of the Soviet Union's departure from Afghanistan by holding a minute of silence in memory of Russians killed in the war and for those "who died in Syria", Tass reported.

Russia's military has said it had nothing to do with the attack and the USA accepted the claim.

Yury Barmin, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank set up by the Kremlin, said Russia supports Assad's efforts to reclaim the "crucial" eastern region of Deir Ezzor to help fund his national reconstruction and reconciliation plan, which the USA opposes. "They are there illegally, the government has disowned them, even Putin says our soldiers are not there", Berdysheva, 80, told Reuters.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly insisted that combat operations in Syria are winding down. USA officials say they do not know whether Russian mercenaries were among the casualties.

Simakovsky said he's certain the Russians diplomatically and politically behind the scenes have been "screaming at the United States to be more careful".

The Russian defense ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters about casualties in Syria. Most are Russian citizens, though some have Ukrainian and Serbian passports. "I'd like to emphasize once again that we're not talking about Russian military personnel", reported The Moscow Times.

The timing of the casualties coincided with a battle on Feb 7 near the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor where, according to United States officials and associates of the fighters involved, the US-led coalition forces attacked forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Some state interference in the pre-election process is still being discussed, but I have not seen a single fact", Lavrov said on the Euronews TV channel, adding that he hadn't seen a single fact brought forth by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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The Pentagon has said its air strikes in Deir al-Zor last week targeted Syrian government troops that had attacked a base housing USA and Syrian opposition forces, killing about 100 of the attackers.

Mr Novak said that "We attach great importance to restoring the Syrian economy, especially the oil and gas sectors which will certainly contribute to the normalisation of the economic and social situation in the country".

The United States and Russian Federation, while backing opposite sides in the Syria conflict, have taken pains to make sure that their forces do not accidentally collide.

These Russian "mercenaries" have also shown up in Eastern Ukraine, where nobody believes they are not under the direct control of the Kremlin.

The Kremlin stopped short of a flat out denial that Russians may have been killed in last week's failed attack on a US-Kurdish base in Syria. And in Moscow, most assume the "traitorous" Americans were also aware of the imminent attack and, thus, prepared a deadly ambush (Militarynews.ru, February 13).

"First of all the bombers attacked, and then they cleaned up using Apaches (US-made attack helicopters)", Shabayev said, citing the wounded men he visited in hospital.

In a surprise trip to Russia's air base in Syria in December, Putin said that Russian and government forces had "crushed" terrorists and ordered a partial withdrawal of the Russian contingent there. They said the deconfliction line was still operating and Russian Federation so far hadn't protested the decision to launch the air strikes.

"The warning was 20 minutes beforehand, in that time it was not feasible to turn the column around", said the source.

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