Nov 9, 2020 - World

Putin declines to congratulate Biden, citing Trump's legal efforts

Putin and Trump at the G20 summit in 2019. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin's spokesman says the Kremlin will wait for an "official announcement" before commenting on the U.S. election — or congratulating President-elect Biden.

Why it matters: Most major world leaders congratulated Biden after the race was called on Saturday, just as Putin quickly congratulated Trump in 2016. But Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman, said this was a different situation due to the "legal procedures that have been announced by the current president."

  • "We therefore think it appropriate to wait for an official announcement,” Peskov said.
  • Russian media has seized on Trump's claims that the adoption is rigged to paint a general picture of democratic chaos, per the NYT.
  • Trump's legal efforts could be a drawn out process, and are likely doomed to fail.

The big picture: Russia interfered in the 2016 election to boost Trump's chances, and U.S. intelligence found evidence of similar interference this time around. Biden has promised a more adversarial relationship with Russia and with Putin himself.

  • Ahead of the election, Putin appeared to hedge his bets. He didn't ultimately agree to Trump's terms for extending the New START nuclear treaty — which would have given Trump a major pre-election win — preferring Biden's approach on that issue.
  • “We will work with any future president of the United States — the one whom the American people give their vote of confidence,” Putin said last month.

What to watch: Biden and Putin are likely to clash over the next four years, but they'll have to start by making a deal.

  • New START is set to expire two weeks after Biden takes office. It can be extended by mutual agreement of the two presidents.

Go deeper: World leaders congratulate Biden

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