The Kremlin has claimed that comments from American President Joe Biden, in which he said he believes his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to be a “killer,” is proof Washington isn’t serious about relations with the country.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no precedent for the remarks in the history of the two nations.
“These are very bad statements by the US president,” he added. “He clearly doesn’t want to establish a relationship with our country, and we will proceed on that basis.”
In the TV interview with ABC, which aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked by chief anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he thought Putin was “a killer.” “Mmm hmm, I do,” he replied.
He added that he had warned the Russian leader that the US would take action if it found evidence of Moscow meddling in the country’s 2020 presidential election. “He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I… I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”
A joint report by Washington’s spy agencies, published the day before, alleged that Russia was behind a campaign to “denigrate” Biden’s reputation during the campaign. The Kremlin has blasted the allegations, insisting it had not engaged in political smears against any candidates.
On Wednesday evening, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled to Moscow for talks on the future of ties with Washington. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that consultations were needed “to analyze what to do and where to head in the context of relations with the US.”
The remarks have sparked a wave of criticism from Russian officials. The speaker of the country’s parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, added his voice to those claiming the remarks were indicative of a diplomatic rift. The top politician argued that “this is a tantrum that comes from powerlessness. Putin is our president, attacking him is an attack on our country.”