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30 Jan, 2019 15:32

‘Putin’s interpreter is there at any time’: Kremlin debunks FT report on Trump-Putin chat at G20

‘Putin’s interpreter is there at any time’: Kremlin debunks FT report on Trump-Putin chat at G20

The Kremlin is only responsible for providing linguistic support for the Russian president, and not for other world leaders, Moscow said after reports that Donald Trump spoke to Vladimir Putin without an interpreter in Argentina.

The Financial Times published a report on Tuesday, claiming that there were no interpreters or notetakers present from the US side when the two leaders chatted privately during a G20 summit in Buenos Aires last November.

The article was widely quoted by other media outlets, but the sensation was short-lived.

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Putin had “plenty of sporadic chats on the sidelines [of the summit],” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told the media on Wednesday.

It’s none of our business at all who had and who didn’t have an interpreter there.

Russian protocol requires that an interpreter accompany the president at all times when may need linguistic support, Peskov said. “President Putin’s interpreter is there at any time, and yet, this is our business and this is where we have full integrity and full order.”

The FT article was obviously seeking to stoke collusion fears again, with the authors writing that the unrecorded meeting – which the newspaper said lasted for 15 minutes – “could trigger new alarm bells about Mr Trump and his relationship with the Kremlin.”

Citing unnamed sources who were briefed on the matter, the paper said that Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, met with Putin at the 19th-century Colon Theater in the Argentine capital, as world leaders and their spouses or guests were exiting the building. They were among the last to leave.

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It is not officially known what they discussed during the short encounter. However, the FT cited a Russian official who revealed that Trump and Putin talked about Syria and the Azov Sea incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels were seized and numerous sailors were detained for what Moscow says was a violation of its maritime borders off Crimea.

At any rate, even the presence of an interpreter wouldn’t save Trump from Russiagate proponents. Last year, some US lawmakers called for the president’s interpreter, Marina Gross, to be subpoenaed in order to “uncover” what Putin and Trump discussed privately.

However, interpreters are usually required to keep the contents of political conversations secret, and revealing it in public usually goes against codes of conduct adopted by professional organizations.

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