U.S. spokeswoman Psaki rebukes 'Russian propaganda machine'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s spokeswoman shrugged off a campaign to denigrate her personally in the Russian media and said she took it as “a badge of honor.”

Jen Psaki, who plays a big role in selling U.S. foreign policy, has been under fire in the state-dominated Russian media and from pro-Kremlin commentators on social media as the United States and Russia trade words over the crisis in Ukraine.

The attacks on Psaki have included altered photo images of her, cartoons, satirical reports and edited video.

At a State Department briefing on Tuesday, Psaki said the criticism was part of a Russian effort to discredit U.S. officials because “the United States supports a strong democratic Ukraine, along with the majority of the international community and the Ukrainian people.”

“So, if I get dinged a bit for that, I’m not going to sweat it. I will take it as a badge of honor,” she said.

“I will say I’m in good company because I’m just one of many American officials, especially women ... targeted by the Russian propaganda machine,” Psaki told reporters when asked for her reaction to the criticism.

“They do seem to have a bit of a tendency to focus on the outfits I’m wearing and the colors I’m wearing, and they’ve superimposed my head in photos. And so, you’ll have to ask them whether that’s how great powers should make their case on the world stage,” she added.

“I think it’s ... a pretty clear sign that they don’t have the truth on their side.”

The Russian criticism of Psaki comes amid increasingly strained ties between the former Cold War adversaries, particularly since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March following the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president.

Relations between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin are particularly frosty.

Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by David Storey and Mohammad Zargham