Sen. Rand Paul invites Russian lawmakers to Washington

Cheryl Sanders
August 8, 2018

The Kentucky Republican met with several Russian senators including Sergey Kislyak, Russia's former envoy to Washington and a key player at the heart of the election meddling scandal that continues to rock relations between the United States and Russia.

"Engagement is vital to our national security and peace around the world", said Paul in a statement Monday.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council, the upper house, strongly backed Paul's effort to promote contacts.

Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the International Affairs Committee, said at the meeting with Paul that efforts to mend ties are hampered by sanctions the United States has imposed in response to Russia's interference in Ukraine, its alleged meddling in the US 2016 presidential election, and other actions.

Senator Rand Paul, one of President Trump's more eager defenders on Russian Federation, jetted into Moscow on Monday in a bid to increase engagement with the country.

"The world is a complicated place, we are in close proximity to Russian Federation in Syria and other places, and I think it would be a very big mistake not to have open lines of communication", Paul said, adding that the objective of his trip was in part "to say that we need to have dialogue", including "more cultural exchange, more exchange between our legislative bodies, more open lines of communication".

Trump was criticized after the summit with Putin for supporting the Russian leader's denial Moscow was involved in meddling in the 2016 USA election. The senator's trip follows Trump's controversial Helsinki summit with Putin last month, which he strongly endorsed.

And Paul is the only Republican lawmaker to stand by Trump during that controversy.

Putin said he would be happy to meet Trump in Washington or Moscow, but the White House has since said the meeting will be postponed to 2019.

He said he opposed new sanctions legislation against Russia that was backed by a bipartisan group of US lawmakers last week, but said he represented a minority voice, Russian news agencies reported.

Kosachev was less reserved, telling reporters that Russia's position was simple - there had been no Russian interference in the 2016 election "and consequently, there won't be any in this year either".

Trump's Helsinki meeting was panned by a number of prominent Republican officials who said the president appeared to side with Putin over top USA intelligence officials.

Kosachev said members of his committee are "ready to discuss this question in a reasoned manner" with USA counterparts.

Other reports by iNewsToday