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Russia recalls US envoy after Biden calls Putin a ‘killer’

Moscow says it wants to avoid an ‘irreversible deterioration’ in relations, accuses Washington of having driven ties ‘into a dead end in recent years’

Then-US vice president Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
Then-US vice president Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW — Russia said Wednesday it had summoned its Washington ambassador to Moscow for consultations on its ties with the United States, but stressed it wanted to prevent an “irreversible deterioration” in relations.

The announcement from the Russian foreign ministry came after US President Joe Biden said Russia would “pay a price” for meddling in US elections and he agreed with the assessment that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is a “killer.”

“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,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Zakharova said the most important thing for Moscow was to determine how to mend Russian-US ties “that have essentially been driven by Washington into a dead end in recent years.”

She said Russia was interested in preventing the bilateral relations’ “irreversible deterioration if Americans understand the risks associated with it.”

The foreign ministry did not reference Biden’s remarks on Putin, but said Moscow wanted to analyze the results of Biden’s first 100 days in office.

Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the US, gestures while speaking during a round-table discussion in Moscow on the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, July 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

In an interview with ABC News broadcast on Wednesday, Biden was asked about a declassified US intelligence report that said Putin tried to harm his candidacy in the November 2020 election and promote that of his rival Donald Trump.

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

Asked if he thought Putin, who has been accused of poisoning political opponents, is a “killer,” Biden said: “I do.”

The statement marked a stark contrast with Trump’s steadfast refusal to say anything negative about the Russian president.

Also on Wednesday, the US government announced that it would expand the export restrictions imposed on Russia earlier this month as punishment for the poisoning of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The new measures, effective Thursday, prevent export to Russia of more items controlled for national security reasons, including some technology, software and parts, the Commerce Department said.

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