Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he barely spoke to former US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at a dinner in Moscow in 2015.
A widely-posted photo of the event has fuelled speculation about possible links between US President Donald Trump’s administration and the Kremlin.
But Mr Putin told NBC he was only told afterwards who Mr Flynn was.
Mr Flynn was sacked in February after misleading the White House about his ties with Russia’s envoy to the US.
Mr Flynn later invoked his right against self-incrimination, declining to testify in the US Senate Intelligence Committee about his Russian ties and alleged Moscow meddling in America’s 2016 presidential elections.
President Trump denies any collusion with Russia, describing an ongoing FBI investigation a “witch hunt” against him.
In December 2015, President Putin and Mr Flynn attended the gala dinner in honour of Russia’s RT television network.
But during the interview broadcast by NBC News’ Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, the Russian leader played down his contacts with the American general.
“I made my speech, then I talked about some other stuff, then I got up and left,” Mr Putin said.
“And then afterwards I was told ‘Do you know that was an American gentleman and he was involved in some things? He used to be in the security services.’ That’s it. I didn’t even really talk to him.”
He also rejected as “another load of nonsense” claims that the Kremlin had any damaging information on President Trump.