AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Thursday that his government had no part in the cyberattacks launched during the 2016 U.S. election—but, Putin added, “patriotically minded” Russian hackers may have played a role on their own.

Comparing computer hackers to “artists” who act on whims they have “when they wake up in the morning,” the New York Times quoted Putin saying about the cyber criminals:

“If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia”

Listen, they’re just some good ol’ fashioned patriots, leading the charge against those meanie Amerikantsy!

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Putin’s remarks were the closest he has come to acknowledging any role Russia—or any Russians—may have played in influencing the 2016 presidential election. Previously, he stated no such effort on the part of Russia had taken place at all—contra the combined assessment of 17 United States intelligence agencies but in lockstep agreement with Trump himself.

“I can imagine that someone is doing this purposefully — building the chain of attacks so that the territory of the Russian Federation appears to be the source of that attack,” Putin also said. “Modern technologies allow to do that kind of thing, it’s rather easy to do.”

Or, in the words of another “artist,” hey, it wasn’t me.