Biden not only ripped into Putin but vowed the Russian strongman would ‘pay a price’ for alleged election interfering
By EMILY GOODIN, SENIOR U.S. POLITICAL REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and JACK NEWMAN FOR MAILONLINE
UNITED Kingdom — Russian President Vladimir Putin wished United States counterpart Joe Biden ‘good health’ on Thursday after the U.S. president called him a ‘killer’ — a description seen as an insult by the Russians and has escalated tensions between the two countries.
The Russian president made the veiled threat in an interview on state TV. Western officials have accused Putin of ordering the assassination attempt of his most vocal domestic critic, Aleksei Navalny, which Putin has denied.
Putin said of Biden’s ‘killer’ accusation that ‘it takes one to know one.’
‘I would say to him: I wish you good health,’ the Russian president said when asked his response to the U.S. president’s charge.
His comment on Biden came after the American president described Putin as ‘without a soul’ during an interview with ABC News.
Russia is demanding an apology from the United States for the strong words. The provocative comments prompted the Kremlin to make the highly unusual move on Wednesday to recall Anatoly Antonov, its ambassador to the US, for urgent consultations over the future of US-Russia ties.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was a ‘very bad statement by the U.S. president’ that made it clear that ‘he doesn’t want to normalize relations.’
‘He clearly does not want to improve relations with our country, and we will be proceeding based precisely on this,’ Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
In an ABC News interview, Biden said ‘I do’ when asked if he believed the Russian president was a killer, described Putin as having no soul, and promised his counterpart in the Kremlin would pay a price for alleged Russian meddling in the 2020 presidential election, something the Kremlin denies.
Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of parliament’s upper house, said Biden’s comments were unacceptable, would inevitably worsen already bad ties, and ended any hope in Moscow of a change of U.S. policy under a new U.S. administration.
He said Moscow’s recall of its ambassador was the only reasonable step to take in the circumstances.
‘I suspect it will not be the last one if no explanation or apology follows from the American side,’ Kosachyov said in a Facebook post.
‘This kind of assessment is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank. This kind of statement is not acceptable under any circumstances,’ he added, calling it a watershed moment in US-Russia ties.
Meanwhile, Artur Chilingarov, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, called for a ‘tough reaction’ from Moscow in comments made to Russia’s Ekho Moskvy radio station.
The comments come after the White House has spent weeks telegraphing a tougher posture toward Russia under a Biden administration – and Moscow has once again bristled at accusations that it serves as a ‘malign’ influence in global affairs.
‘Our administration is going to take a different approach in our relationship to Russia than the prior administration,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in her briefing on Wednesday, pointing to Biden’s comments in the interview with ABC News.
Fueling the rising tensions is a startling new assessment by U.S. intelligence that lays out Russia’s campaign to influence the 2020 elections – on the heels of the Treasury Department slapping sanctions on officials as retaliation for the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a chemical agent. Among those hit with sanctions was the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the FSB.
The extraordinary move by Moscow to remove its ambassador – a gesture undertaken by nations wishing to send a serious diplomatic signal – came after Biden not only ripped into Putin but vowed the Russian strongman would ‘pay a price.’
It was just the latest time when the new Biden team has sought to draw a sharp line on Russia distinguishing it from former President Donald Trump – who repeatedly praised Putin and even appeared to take Putin’s side when he denied allegations of election interference during their infamous summit in Helsinki. (AI/MailOnline courtesy)