Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that elements of a USA anti-missile system being built in Alaska and South Korea were a challenge to Russia which it was obliged to respond to by building up its own forces in the region.
Putin, speaking to worldwide media at an economic forum in St Petersburg, was answering a question about allegations Moscow might try to interfere in this year's German elections.
Russian hacking of elections has been at the centre of a controversy since the United States elections that gave Donald Trump the presidency.
Putin also acknowledged that there may be Russian hackers "who consider themselves patriots" and decide to "make their contribution, as they see fit, to fight against those who speak ill of Russia".
Putin said that in any case hackers can not possibly sway election outcomes because the electorate is not so easily manipulated.
On being asked whether Russian Federation would try to nudge German parliamentary elections due to be held in 2017, Putin said, "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so".
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He also said some people may be taking advantage of a low point in Russia-US relations to launch cyberattacks. "We don't know", said Putin.
"My firm conviction is that no hackers can influence a foreign election campaign in a significant way".
Russian meddling was also a concern in France, with Putin publicly expressing his sympathy for President Emmanuel Macron's rivals in the campaign. The U.S. and the European Union have slapped Moscow with sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
As regards efforts to build an open, well-balanced and inclusive security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, both leaders said that this architecture would be based "on shared principles and taking into account the legitimate interests of all states of the region, including through the development of relevant dialogue in the framework of the East Asia Summit".
SPIEF, a major global platform for communication between business representatives and discussion of crucial economic issues, kicked off in Russia's St. Petersburg on Thursday and will continue through Saturday.
"If tomorrow North Korea declares it is stopping nuclear tests and canceling its rocket program, the U.S. will continue building its ABM system under some new pretext or without one at all", he said.