Conversations between US President Donald Trump's former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador to the US didn't influence Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Putin's spokesperson.

Then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, February. 1, 2017.  (file photo)
Then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, February. 1, 2017. (file photo) (AP)

The Kremlin insisted on Monday that conversations between President Donald Trump's former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador to the US didn't influence Russian President Vladimir Putin's response to sanctions imposed by Trump's predecessor.

Former adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about reaching out to Russian officials.

Prosecutors say Flynn asked Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last December to "not escalate the situation" after the outgoing Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for suspected election interference. Just days later, Putin opted not to retaliate.

Flynn's tenure was short-lived. He was forced to resign in February following news reports revealing that the Obama administration officials had informed Trump's team that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak, a fact at odds with the public assertions of Vice President Mike Pence.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday it was "absurd" to suggest that the phone conversation could have influenced Putin's decision and added that "such requests couldn't have been passed on" to him.

"The president makes his own decisions, guided solely by Russia's national interests," Peskov told reporters. "Flynn couldn't have asked Sergei Ivanovich (Kislyak) about anything, and, what's more such requests couldn't have been passed on to the Russian president."

Russian officials have dismissed special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump administration and Moscow as an anti-Russia witch hunt.

Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Federation Council's information policy committee, tweeted Monday that "Mueller has nothing on Flynn."

"Witch hunters are going away empty-handed," he said.

More support for Flynn

Trump said on Monday his former national security adviser was being treated unfairly, implicitly criticising the US special counsel's charges against him, even though Flynn pleaded guilty.

"I feel badly for General Flynn," Trump told reporters at the White House, and went on to accuse his Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, of having lied last year.

Flynn was charged as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion by Trump campaign aides.

Trump did not provide evidence or detail about his accusation against Clinton. Clinton answered questions in July 2016 about her use of a private server for government emails while she was secretary of state.

There was never any indication from the FBI that Clinton did not tell the truth.

"Hillary Clinton on the 4th of July weekend went to the FBI Not under oath. It was the most incredible thing anyone's ever seen," Trump said. "She lied many times, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and it's like, they ruined his life. Very unfair."

Moscow has denied interfering in the election and Trump has denied collusion by his campaign.

Source: AP