Saturday, March 20, 2021

Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov was recalled on Wednesday after the US President Joe Biden hinted in an interview he felt Vladimir Putin was a killer; and said Russia would “pay a price” for alleged electoral interference in the 2020 US presidential election.

The US intelligence officials released a report confirming the Russian leader’s authorisation of operations “aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy”. In an interview with ABC News, Biden said Putin “will pay a price. […] I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.” Upon interviewer George Stephanopoulos asking if “[y]ou think he’s a killer?”, Biden responded “I do”, but it was possible to “walk and chew gum at the same time for places where it’s in our mutual interest to to work together”.

This came after the United States sanctioned seven of the Russian government’s senior members earlier this month over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said while “we have still found ways to work together in areas where we have mutual interest”, President Biden will not “hold back in his direct communications”. Spokesperson for the US State Department Jalina Porter said: “We remain clear-eyed about the challenges that Russia poses, and even as we work with Russia to advance U.S. interests, we’ll also work to hold them accountable”.

The US State Department said it had “nothing to comment” if it would recall its own ambassador John J. Sullivan, who has been posted in Moscow since 2020.

In a statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed “Anatoly Antonov has been summoned to Moscow for consultations” and “[w]e are interested in preventing an irreversible deterioration in relations, if the Americans become aware of the risks associated with this”.

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