Russian President Vladimir Putin said he’s ready to work with any U.S. leader, but still isn’t ready to recognize the election victory of Joe Biden.
“We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people,” Putin said on Russian state TV Sunday. “But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognized by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way.”
The comments are some of the most detailed since the election from Putin, one of a dwindling number of leaders who haven’t recognized Biden as the next U.S. head of state. Russia, accused by U.S. intelligence agencies of intervening in 2016 to help get Trump elected, has been wary of Biden, fearing an increase in sanctions pressure and clashes over human rights.
Putin described the Kremlin’s decision not to congratulate Biden as “a formality” with no ulterior motives. When asked if the move could damage U.S.-Russia relations, he said: “there’s nothing to damage, they’re already ruined.”
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th U.S. president, unseating the incumbent with a pledge to unify and mend a nation reeling from a worsening pandemic, faltering economy and deep political divisions.
Biden’s victory came after the Associated Press, CNN and NBC showed him winning Pennsylvania and gaining more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency. Trump sought to undermine the outcome, baselessly accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election and claiming victory before the race was called.
Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, 56, will become the first Black and Indian-American woman to serve as vice president, a glimpse at a coming generational shift in the party.
Biden, 77, will become the oldest president-elect in U.S. history and the first to oust a sitting commander-in-chief after one term since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992.
But the incoming president’s goal of uniting the country will be made more difficult by Trump’s unfounded allegations of fraud and with control of the U.S. Senate up in the air, awaiting two runoffs in Georgia in January.