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I am looking for more information on a quote that I heard in 2016 and barely remember.

After President Trump was elected in 2016, a reporter on a NPR news program mentioned that Putin mentioned in a press briefing that Russia was spending money to influence the 2016 election. And from what I can remember, the reporter paraphrased President Putin's response to a question about it as him confirming involvement, quoting Putin as saying

America is like a giant marshmallow that will pay you to squeeze it.

Could anyone help me find more information about this? I think the reason why my internet searching about this is because the translation to English wasn't exact.

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    I've googled путин зефирка in yandex and nothing useful came up. Perhaps some other confection metaphor was in use?
    – alamar
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 17:21
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    Perhaps you are remembering Ben Carson's comment "I'd tell Putin that America is not a marshmallow" and transferring it finance.yahoo.com/video/…
    – James K
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 4:44
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    Goodness, how are we supposed to understand these potato-moose metaphors?
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 5:02
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    Voting not to close - Public statements by high-ranking politicians are highly relevant and indicative of the policies they follow. This question is seeking clarification of such a statement and hence is within the scope of this SE.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 7:08
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    @JamesK Then that should be the answer, rather than closing it? In this case, the Q&A can serve as a fact-check?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 5:25

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As suggested in comments, the marshmallow remark was from Ben Carson ("I would tell [Putin] that we are a peaceful nation, but we are not a marshmallow", and it was in sense of not allowing the US to be squeezed out of the "places where we have an interest", geopolitically, rather than something about the US election[s] or money.)

I could not find any report about Putin making such a frank admission as in the Q ("Putin mentioned in a press briefing that Russia was spending money to influence the 2016 election") in 2016 or even a bit later. To the contrary, I did find one 2018 Politico article, saying somewhat confusingly/ambiguously:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he wanted President Donald Trump to win the 2016 election because he believed Trump’s policies would be more friendly to the Kremlin.

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” Putin said, standing alongside Trump at a joint news conference.

OTOH, the same pieces says more clearly:

At the joint news conference, Putin denied any evidence that Russia was behind election meddling [...]

So, it seems very improbable Putin would have said the opposite in 2016.

There was a 2017 US intel assessment that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election." And in 2021 there were some leaks of purported Kremlin documents dating back to 2016, more precisely from a "closed session of Russia’s national security council [... that] took place on 22 January 2016" along those lines.

Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature.

By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. [...]

But

The Kremlin responded dismissively. Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov said the idea that Russian leaders had met and agreed to support Trump in at the meeting in early 2016 was “a great pulp fiction” when contacted by the Guardian on Thursday morning.

The best I could find as a frank admission of election interference is one from Prigozhin, in 2022, but even he is not that specific about which election he's talking about.

“Gentlemen, we interfered, we are interfering and we will interfere,” Prigozhin, who has previously been accused of influencing the outcome of elections across continents, said in a statement posted by his catering company, Concord.

“Carefully, precisely, surgically and the way we do it, the way we can,” Prigozhin, 61, added.

Prigozhin was responding to a request to comment on a recent Bloomberg report saying Russia was interfering in Tuesday’s US midterm elections. [...]

Prigozhin, with a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies, was indicted in 2018 as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.

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    What do you mean by "frank admission"? You seem to be assuming Russia interfered with US elections.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 6:37
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    @einpoklum: I'm just referring to what Prigo said "“Gentlemen, we interfered, we are interfering and we will interfere,” Prigozhin, who has previously been accused of influencing the outcome of elections across continents, said in a statement posted by his catering company, Concord. “Carefully, precisely, surgically and the way we do it, the way we can,” Prigozhin, 61, added." Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 7:00
  • This answer could be improved by including Carson's marshmallow statement. Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 16:44

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