Russian officials have said they were in contact with many of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign team during the run-up to the U.S. presidential election. Despite the fact that Trump’s team has repeatedly denied this assertion, Russia on Thursday confirmed it. “There were contacts” before the election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reportedly said Thursday. “Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage... I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.” He added, “We continue this work, of course.” Members of Trump’s team also met with Russian embassy staff, which Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called “normal practice.” Hillary Clinton had refused similar meetings, she said.