Kremlin Slams U.S. Bid Not to Recognize 'Autocrat' Vladimir Putin as President after 2024

A move by two congressmen calling on the U.S. not to recognize Vladimir Putin as president of Russia beyond 2024 has been denounced by the Kremlin as an attempt to meddle in its domestic affairs.

The resolution, introduced by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), follow last year's constitutional changes in Russia, which could see Putin remain in power until 2036, making him the longest serving leader in Moscow since Joseph Stalin.

Before it was amended in 2020, the Russian constitution allowed Putin to serve two consecutive six-year terms.

Putin has been in power since 2000, stepping aside to become prime minister in 2008, before resuming his position as president in 2012. The initial four-year presidential term was extended by other constitutional tweaks.

In their resolution on Thursday, the U.S. lawmakers said that the plebiscite the Kremlin said gave a mandate to the constitutional amendments to reset Putin's terms to zero, were marred by "voter coercion" and "ballot stuffing," among other irregularities.

A statement with the resolution said that "his continuation in office is illegitimate" and that the U.S. should not recognize Putin as president "after May 7, 2024, if the autocrat remains in power."

Putin has previously said he hasn't yet decided if he will run for president again, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the move by the U.S. lawmakers as "unacceptable."

"When we think that no more ridiculous, aggressive, unfriendly and unconstructive things could come from the other side of the ocean, it turns out that each time we are wrong," Peskov said, according to news agency Tass.

"This is a perfect example not only for Russia but also for all other countries, of how the United States officially interferes in the domestic affairs of other nations," he added.

Russian agencies noted that such a resolution isn't binding and that the U.S. executive branch can choose not to act on it.

However, Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, said the move was part of "more provocations, populism and political PR."

"Clearly, this does not originate from any great intellect or any competence," he added in a post on Telegram, also reported by Tass.

Tensions Are Escalating

Cohen is co-chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, while Wilson is a ranking member. Newsweek has contacted Cohen for comment.

Amid a backdrop of U.S. sanctions against Russia and diplomatic wrangles, tensions between Moscow and Washington have escalated since the June summit between Putin and President Joe Biden.

In a foreign policy speech on Thursday, Putin criticized the West as the U.S. expresses concerns about Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine.

However, Putin also expressed hope for dialogue with the U.S., and Russian media have reported that there could be a virtual meeting between the Russian and American presidents before the end of the year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 12, 2021. The Kremlin has slammed a move by two U.S. representatives calling for the U.S. not to recognize Putin as president after 2024. Mikhail Metzel/Getty