Russia warns it may scale up response to Biden’s statement

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian lawmaker warned yesterday that Moscow would follow up on its move to recall its ambassador in Washington with other moves if the United States (US) fails to offer an explanation and apology for US President Joe Biden’s remarks.

In a television interview aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked whether he thought Putin is a killer and said “I do”.

Deputy Speaker of the Upper House of Russian Parliament Konstantin Kosachev said Biden’s “boorish statement” marks a watershed.

“Such assessments are inadmissible for a statesman of his rank,” Kosachev said. “Such statements are unacceptable under any circumstances. They inevitably lead to a sharp exacerbation of our bilateral ties.”

Russia announced on Wednesday it is recalling its ambassador to the US for consultations. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the US for bringing bilateral ties to a “dead end”, adding that “we are interested in preventing their irreversible degradation, if the Americans are aware of the associated risks”, she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: AP

Commenting on the Russian move on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasised that “we will be direct, we will speak out on areas where we have concerns, and it will certainly be, as the president said last night — certainly, the Russians will be held accountable for the actions that they have taken”.

The exchange of tough statements comes on the heels of a declassified report from the US national intelligence director’s office that finds President Vladimir Putin authorised influence operations to help Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election.

“(Putin) will pay a price,” Biden said in the interview, asked about the declassified report.