US National Security Advisor John Bolton said he warned his Russian counterpart on Thursday that Washington would not tolerate interference in November’s mid-term elections, after fresh evidence emerged of Russian meddling.
Bolton’s meeting with Russia’s security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva was a follow up to last month’s Helsinki summit between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Both Bolton and Patrushev said that disagreements over the question of Russian interference in US elections prevented them from issuing a joint statement.
“I made it clear that we wouldn’t tolerate meddling in 2018 and that we were prepared to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening,” Bolton told reporters.
Earlier this week, Facebook and Twitter separately announced that they had uncovered hundreds of pages and accounts tied to Russia and Iran aimed at manipulating debate ahead of the US vote.
Microsoft said days earlier that it seized websites linked to Russian intelligence that sought to meddle in US political debate.
Bolton said he did not specifically raise the Microsoft case and gave no details about any specific talks on the Facebook or Twitter revelations.
Patrushev told the RIA Novosti news agency that an initial joint statement proposed by the US included a reference to Russian election tampering.
“We said if there is such a sentence, then the document should also include a phrase stating that Americans should not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries,” Patrushev was quoted as saying.
“So they said they were not going to sign this statement.”
Russia has repeatedly denied any effort to influence US elections, including via social media.
Despite being at loggerheads over alleged election tampering, Bolton insisted that “a lot of progress” was made at the five-hour meeting.
“We identified certain areas where lines of communication could be restored,” including between respective defence departments.
Patrushev told RIA Novosti that continuing contacts with the US military was “particularly important” for Moscow.
The sides also discussed nuclear non-proliferation, Syria and the resumption of US sanctions against Iran.
Both officials said they planned to meet again, but no date or venue has been set.