Just a day after the public release of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's report alleging that Vladimir Putin ordered Russian agencies to conduct 'influence operations' during the 2020 election in order to 'boost' Trump at the expense of Joe Biden, an angry Kremlin has summoned its ambassador to the US back to Moscow for "consultations".
"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," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Of note is that the statement emphasized Moscow hoped to prevent an "irreversible deterioration" in relations - something that appears to be increasingly difficult given President Biden's interview also published Wednesday morning wherein the president vowed Russia will "pay a price" for "meddling" in US elections. Biden further agreed with ABC interview host George Stephanopoulos that Putin is a "killer".
Here's the most controversial part of the interview which aired early Wednesday:
Asked whether he believes Mr Putin is a "killer" in a pre-taped interview that aired on Wednesday, the president responded: "I do."
"The price he’s going to pay, you’ll see shortly," he said.
Mr Biden recalled meeting Mr Putin, during which he reportedly told him that he "doesn’t have a soul": "I wasn’t being a wise guy."
"He looked back at me and said, 'We understand each other'," Mr Biden said.
CNN is also reporting sanctions are likely coming as soon as next week, which will specifically target "people close to Russia President Vladimir Putin."
Biden during this latest bombshell interview had claimed he know's Putin "relatively well".
Biden does not know Putin well at all. If he did, he would know that the last thing that would give the Russian leader pause were the fanciful tough-guy posturing of a geriatric president. https://t.co/bYQD3bzMQS— Scott Ritter (@RealScottRitter) March 17, 2021
Biden recounted to Stephanopoulos that during a "long talk" with the Russian leader, he informed his Russian counterpart, "I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared" — speaking of the election meddling allegations and the potential for sanctions.
As for how Russia might reciprocate, it has very limited options - given especially the Kremlin no doubt senses that the Democratic administration is in large part playing to its base - the same which hyped and bought into the now long deflated 'Russiagate' narrative which persisted through the Trump years. This means Washington seems ready and willing with finger on the sanctions trigger to escalate things in a tit-for-tat fashion.