In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished his American counterpart Joe Biden, who considers Putin a “killer”, “good health”. Putin has also stated that Russia will defend its interests and cooperate with the United States where it is “beneficial”. The Kremlin has already recalled the Russian ambassador in Washington for consultation.
“Whoever says it is the self,” said Putin, in response to Biden’s statements who have caused bad blood in Moscow. “As far as the statements of my American counterpart are concerned. What would I answer him? I would tell him to stay healthy. I wish him good health,” Putin said, according to Russian news agencies. “I say that without irony, without jokes.”
“We will defend our own interests and we will work with them in circumstances that are beneficial to us,” Putin added.
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin had also responded to Biden’s statements. He “clearly does not want to improve relations” between Moscow and Washington, said spokesman Dmitri Peskov. “Those statements by the American president are very bad. In the history of Russian-American relations, there have never been statements like Biden’s, it said. “Never has anything like this happened,” said Peskov.
Biden spoke in the ABC News interview about the tense relationship between Washington and Moscow. He promised that Russia would “pay a price” for alleged interference in the US election.
The American also looked back on a dialogue with Putin, in which he allegedly confessed to the Russian leader that he “seems to have no soul”. “His response was, ‘we understand each other,’” said Biden.
The president was then asked whether he sees Putin as a murderer. “Uh huh. I do,” he responded. That statement fell badly in Russia, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded clarification.
Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov will return to Moscow on Saturday to discuss the relationship between the countries, which the embassy says is in danger of “collapsing”.
Even though Moscow formally speaks of an “invitation”, the recall of an ambassador does not often happen in Russian diplomacy. “During meetings at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with other bodies, the question will be how we can correct the Russian-American relationship in crisis,” said the Russian embassy in the US.
Biden was not the first top American politician to be suspicious of Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for more than two decades. Dick Cheney, vice president under George W. Bush, is said to have once remarked that he always thought “KGB, KGB, KGB” when he saw the Russian leader who was once part of that Soviet intelligence agency.
Relations between Russia and the US deteriorated during Barack Obama’s presidency when Biden was vice president. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in his memoirs that he saw a “cold-blooded murderer” when he looked Putin in the eye in 2007.
Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, had a much better relationship with his Russian colleague. “I like Putin, and he likes me too,” Trump said last year.