Russia recalls envoy after Biden says ‘killer’ Putin will ‘pay the price’

Russia recalls envoy after Biden says ‘killer’ Putin will ‘pay the price’

“He will pay a price,” the 78-year-old Biden said.

Russia called its US ambassador back to Moscow for consultations on Wednesday after Joe Biden described Vladimir Putin as a “killer” who would “pay a price” for election meddling, prompting the first major diplomatic crisis for the new American president.

In an interview with ABC News, Biden was asked about a US intelligence report that the Russian leader tried to harm his candidacy in the November 2020 election and promote that of Donald Trump.

“He will pay a price,” the 78-year-old Biden said.

Asked if he thought Putin, who has been accused of ordering the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and other rivals, is a “killer,” Biden said: “I do.”

The comments were aired as the US Commerce Department announced it was toughening export restrictions imposed on Russia as punishment for Navalny’s poisoning.

Russia responded by summoning its envoy home, though the State Department did not reciprocate by recalling its own ambassador to Moscow.

“The Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, has been invited to come to Moscow for consultations conducted with the aim of analyzing what should be done and where to go in the context of ties with the United States,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti that “responsibility for further deterioration of Russian-American ties fully rests with the United States.”

In Washington, the State Department noted the Russian move and said the United States will “remain clear-eyed about the challenges that Russia poses.”

Russia recalls envoy after Biden says ‘killer’ Putin will ‘pay the price’
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White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked by reporters whether the president considers Putin literally or just metaphorically a killer.

“He does not hold back on his concerns about what we see as malign and problematic actions,” Psaki said, citing election interference, Navalny’s poisoning, cyberattacks and bounties on US troops in Afghanistan.

“He’s not going to hold back in his direct communications, nor is he going to hold back publicly,” she said. “We are not going to look the other way as we saw a little bit over the last four years.”

Biden told ABC News he had a “long talk” with Putin after taking office in January.

“The conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared’,” Biden said.

Despite his thoughts about the Russian leader, Biden said “there are places where it’s in our mutual interest to work together.”

“That’s why I renewed the START agreement with him,” he said of the nuclear treaty. “That occurred while he’s doing this, but that’s overwhelmingly in the interest of humanity, that we diminish the prospect of a nuclear exchange.”

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