Russian Media Reacts to U.S. Election: 'A Choice Between the Bad and the Very Bad'

Politicians and media outlets in Russia are pessimistic over any chances of the U.S. election's eventual winner pushing for improved relations between Moscow and Washington.

With Democratic contender Joe Biden ahead of President Donald Trump in the fight for the White House, the sentiment from Russia is that whoever wins would present difficulties for the Kremlin.

Leonid Slutsky, chair of the parliamentary international affairs committee, wrote on Facebook that an "anti-Russian" agenda had been playing out within U.S. politics and, no matter who won, "there is no need to expect any changes for the better in Russian-American relations, and that is very unfortunate."

Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the upper house Federation Council's foreign affairs committee, said that fears of Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. election were "never convincingly proven."

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A Russian Matryoshka doll of Donald Trump is pictured in Moscow on November 3, 2020. Russian media and politicians fear there will be no change in Moscow-Washington ties whoever wins the U.S. election. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Writing on Facebook, he said that the Senate race will have a more important bearing on U.S.-Russia relations. "Let's not forget that in recent years White House policy on Russia did not come from the presidential administration, but from the mood in Congress."

If Congress "realized that Russia is not the source of current U.S. problems," he believes "a lot would change."

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a State Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party, wrote on his Facebook page that both Biden and Trump were ready to fight to the end "at all costs" but wondered: "What does the American electoral drama bring to Russia and the world?

"Trump has promised to drain the 'swamp' but it is possible that the 'swamp' will wipe out Trump," he said.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he would not comment on the U.S. election, saying that "it's impossible to make comments in the current situation" and to do so would be "like a red rag to a bull."

However, he did say that uncertainty in the U.S. "could potentially have negative consequences for global affairs.

Russian media outlets also analyzed the significance of the U.S. election for Moscow-Washington ties. An op-ed in the mass-circulation newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets on Tuesday said that there were no good options for Russia regardless of whether Trump or Biden won.

It described how "the boat of Russian-U.S. relations" had started sinking under previous administrations and "hit rock bottom under Trump," but there was always the possibility that ties could get even worse.

"Joe Biden's victory could mean a deepening and a widening of sanctions and other pressure," it said. "For Russia, the American presidential campaign is a choice between the bad and the very bad. Whatever happens, our statesmen will not be drinking champagne. Stronger drinks are more appropriate."

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A Russian flag flies next to the U.S. embassy building in Moscow on July 31, 2017.Russia-U.S. ties may change if there is a new U.S. president. MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the business publication RBC reported that even though the Kremlin has publicly declared its willingness to work with whoever wins, there are concerns among Russia's political elite that a Biden victory would be "bad news."

It said that there is uncertainty over "whether Biden's harsh rhetoric against Russia will translate into concrete actions."

An article on the front page of the newspaper Kommersant more broadly assesses the election, saying that "this was not the triumph for Democrat Joe Biden that almost all the opinion polls had predicted."

It added that the "only guaranteed result of the election is that the split in the nation that stunned the nation four years ago would continue to widen."

However, prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is recovering from a Novichok poison attack, saw virtue in the uncertainty of the U.S. election and compared the process to his own country.

"Woke up to check who won on Twitter. Still unclear. Now that's what I call elections," he tweeted.

The graphic below provided by Statista shows the main issues that U.S. voters considered at the ballot box.

Statista graph