Russia recalls envoy after Biden remarks about Putin
Russia has recalled its Washington ambassador for talks to prevent the “irreversible deterioration” of relations with the US.
The Russian government said Anatoly Antonov had been called back to Moscow as US ties had reached a “blind alley”.
The move came after President Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin would “pay the price” for alleged election meddling.
In an interview with ABC News, Mr Biden confirmed he thought the Russian president was “a killer”.
Mr Biden had been commenting on an American intelligence report that suggested Mr Putin had authorised an interference campaign in last November’s presidential election in the US.
The report accused Russia of trying to sway the election in favour of former Republican President Donald Trump, who was defeated by Mr Biden, a Democrat.
Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the accusations were not backed by evidence and would further harm bilateral ties.
The US is expected to impose sanctions on Russia as soon as next week over the report’s conclusions.
What did Russia’s foreign ministry say?
“Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has been summoned to Moscow for consultations in order to analyse what needs to be done in the context of relations with the United States,” it said in a statement.
Russia, it added, was interested in “preventing an irreversible deterioration in relations”.
“The most important thing for us is to identify ways of rectifying Russia-US relations, which have been going through hard times as Washington has, as a matter of fact, brought them to a blind alley,” it said.
What did President Biden say?
Mr Biden told ABC he had warned Mr Putin about a potential response to alleged election meddling during a call in late January.
“He will pay a price,” Mr Biden said in the interview, broadcast on Wednesday.
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Biden told @GStephanopoulos that he agreed Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer” and will “pay a price” for interfering in U.S. elections. https://t.co/rIe2ms8sSv pic.twitter.com/VtAGCvF9hp— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 17, 2021
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Asked what the consequences would be, he said: “You’ll see shortly.”
When asked if he thought Mr Putin was “a killer”, President Biden said “I do”.
In a later news conference, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said relations between Russia and the US would be different than under the Trump presidency.
“Certainly the Russians will be held accountable for the action they’ve taken,” Ms Psaki told reporters.
What did the US intelligence report say?
The 15-page report, released on Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, outlined what it said were “influence operations” pushed by Russia as well as Iran.
It said Russian-linked individuals had spread unsubstantiated claims about President Biden ahead of the 3 November election.
It also said a disinformation campaign had sought to undermine confidence in the broader election process.
According to the US report, some people connected to Russian intelligence also pushed anti-Biden narratives to media outlets, senior officials and allies of Mr Trump.