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During an interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, President Biden agreed that President Putin was a ‘killer’ and that he will ‘pay a price’ for meddling in the 2020 US elections.
When Stephanopoulos asked the POTUS whether he thought that Putin was a killer, Biden nodded and replied, “Mmm-hmm, I do.”
A report by the National Intelligence Council of the US, published on March 10th and declassified five days later, seems to have caused a new rift between Moscow and Washington.
The report claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government authorized and conducted influence operations aimed at ‘denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.’
The report also implicates Iran, claiming that the country intended to undercut Donald Trump’s re-election bid. On the other hand, the report, surprisingly, absolves China of any interference. “China sought stability in its relationship with the United States, did not view either election outcome as being advantageous enough for China to risk getting caught meddling,” the report stated.
Biden threatened that he and his administration would respond harshly if the claims made by the report panned out to be true. “If I establish this occurred, then be prepared,” Biden allegedly told Putin during a conversation that the two heads of states had.
The speaker of the State Duma and Putin’s ally, Vyacheslav Volodin, called Biden’s comments ‘hysterics born of powerlessness’.
Russia denied all the allegations, with Moscow’s Embassy in Washington posting that “[the document] is another set of groundless accusations against our country of interfering in American internal political processes.”
In light of the report, the US Department of Commerce announced that it would expand the sanctions on exports to Russia. Within a few hours after the announcement, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, has been recalled to Moscow to discuss the future of the US – Russian relations. According to RT, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the ambassador was needed in Moscow for “consultations to analyze what to do and where to head in the context of the relations with the US.” Adding that the representatives of the Foreign Ministry and other relevant agencies will participate in the discussions with Antonov about US relations going forward.
In a statement made on Wednesday, March 17th, Maria Zakharova further commented that “We’re interested in preventing an irreversible degradation if the Americans recognize the risks associated with that”. The White House downplayed Russia’s recall of Antonov and declined to say whether the US would also bring its ambassador home from Moscow, USA Today reports.
Konstantin Kosachyov, deputy chairman of Russia’s Federal Assembly, posted on Facebook, “[Biden’s remark] is unacceptable in any circumstances,” demanding an apology from the American side.
In the wake of these events, the ruble slid 1.2% lower against the dollar at 73.69 per dollar at the close of trading in Moscow. MOEX stocks index sunk 2.3%, ending a four-day winning streak, and the 10-year ruble bonds were up at 6.88%.
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