Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that the U.S. giving Maria Butina an 18-month sentence was an attempt to “save face.”
Putin, speaking at an international forum in Beijing, said that Butina, a convicted Russian operative, was not guilty of any crime.
"In order to not make it look completely ridiculous, they gave her 18 months to show that she's guilty of something," Putin said.
Butina was convicted Friday for conspiring with a Russian official to infiltrate conservative political circles to eventually influence U.S.-Russian relations.
“I’ve destroyed my own life … now nothing remains,” she said, addressing the judge. “If I had known to register as an agent, I would have done so without delay.”
“Just an apology will never be enough for my mistakes, dear judge, because instead of building peace I created discord," she said.
Putin reiterated his stance after the April release of the Mueller report that “Russia did not meddle in any elections in the United States.”
The Mueller report found significant evidence that Russia did meddle in the 2016 presidential election.