Russians Hint at Escalation After Joe Biden Calls Vladimir Putin a 'Killer'

Russia has continued pushing back on President Joe Biden's characterization of President Vladimir Putin as a "killer," after a new U.S. report accused Moscow of meddling in the 2020 presidential election to swing the race in favor of former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday Russia recalled its U.S. ambassador after Biden said the Kremlin would "pay a price" for its electoral interference. Asked if he considered Putin a "killer," Biden replied: "I do."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova released a statement blaming Washington for the dire state of U.S.-Russia relations, adding Moscow would prefer to prevent "irreversible deterioration."

Biden's remarks and the meddling report prompted fury in Russia, as well as suggestions it is the U.S. rather than Moscow that is to blame for the diplomatic chill that has settled over bilateral relations over the last decade.

On Thursday, for example, Konstantin Kosachev—the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament's upper house cited the disastrous American War on Terror as evidence of Biden's hypocrisy.

The U.S. "drops a bomb somewhere in the world every 12 minutes, according to expert estimates," Kosachev claimed. "As a result, the death of more than 500,000 people has been linked to U.S. actions since 2001. Could you comment on that, Mr. Biden?"

"Such remarks cannot be tolerated under any circumstances and will inevitably raise tensions between our countries," Kosachev warned.

"The recall of the Russian ambassador to the U.S. for consultations is a prompt, adequate and the only sensible response in such a situation. I suspect that if the U.S. fails to provide an explanation and apology, it won't end there," the senator said.

Kosachev characterized Biden's remarks as "a fault line." He added: "These boorish remarks have killed off all expectations that the new U.S. administration will pursue a new policy towards Russia."

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in electoral meddling in the U.S. and other democratic countries, despite a wealth of evidence detailing its sophisticated influence operations.

Moscow has also denied involvement in a series of covert attacks on dissidents abroad that have prompted sanctions from Western nations, and remains under measures imposed over 2014 its annexation of Crimea.

Biden is broadly expected to take a tougher line on Russia than his predecessor, whose term was undermined by unconfirmed allegations of collusion with Moscow to win the 2016 presidential election.

Trump was also consistently criticized by his Democratic opponents for his perceived failure to stand up to Putin over a series of grievances, including reported Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan.

The Russian embassy in the U.S. posted a statement to its Facebook page on Wednesday claiming that the current tension "stems from Washington's deliberate policy." It added: "As a matter of fact, Washington has been deliberately driving bilateral cooperation to a dead end in the recent years.

The embassy warned the situation could yet get worse. "The U.S. administration's non-constructive policy towards our country is in the interest of neither Russia nor the United States and certain reckless statements of U.S. senior officials pose a threat of utter collapse to bilateral relations, which are already excessively confrontational," the statement said.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian parliament, also issued his own warning, branding Biden's comments as "beyond common sense" on Telegram. "Nobody is allowed to talk like that about our head of state," Volodin added.

"Vladimir Putin is our president. Attacks on him are attacks on our country," Volodin wrote.

Vladimir Putin pictured at a video event
Russian President Vladimir Putin participates via video link in a ceremony launching a gold processing facility in Kyrgyzstan, in Moscow, Russia on March 17, 2021. ALEXEI DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images