MADISON, Wis. β€” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is downplaying the threat Russia poses to U.S. elections, saying "these are not the greatest threats to our democracy."

Johnson was part of a contingent of senators who met with Russian officials in Russia last week. He told reporters Tuesday that over half of their five-hour discussion focused on Russia's involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Johnson says Russian interference is "unacceptable" and "serious," but "when you look at threats to this nation I look at much larger threats."

He says U.S. elections are very difficult to hack and remain secure, while Russia's interference on social media in 2016 was minimal.

Johnson has been critical of Senate sanctions against Russia, saying they have been ineffective and don't leave President Donald Trump with enough negotiating room on other issues.