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Putin Criticizes Joe Biden’s ‘Sharp Anti-Russian Rhetoric’

Putin Criticizes Joe Biden’s ‘Sharp Anti-Russian Rhetoric’

MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his first substantive remarks on the U.S. presidential race, noting what he called Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s sharp anti-Russian rhetoric. He praised President Trump for improving relations between the two countries, and said he was reassured by Mr. Biden’s support for extending arms-control agreements.

Mr. Putin’s comments come after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow has undertaken a broad effort to undermine Mr. Biden’s bid for the presidency through a media disinformation campaign and moves to leak potentially damaging information. Mr. Biden has warned that interfering in the U.S. election would come at a substantial cost and referred to Mr. Trump in last week’s presidential debate as “Putin’s puppy.” As vice president, Mr. Biden frequently spoke out against Russia’s foreign policy.

“As far as the candidate from the Democratic Party is concerned…we also see quite sharp anti-Russian rhetoric,” Mr. Putin said in a televised interview on Wednesday, his 68th birthday. “Unfortunately, we are used to this.”

However, Mr. Putin said he was encouraged by Mr. Biden’s stance on arms control. Moscow and Washington have been at odds about a possible extension of the New START treaty, a nuclear arms-reduction agreement that expires in February. Mr. Biden has said that he would extend it and use it as a foundation for working out other arms-control arrangements. 

Mr. Biden’s support for the treaty “is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future,” Mr. Putin said.

In the interview, Mr. Putin rejected allegations that Russia meddles in the U.S. electoral process. Last month,

Microsoft Corp.’s

threat-intelligence team reported that Russian government hackers have targeted at least 200 organizations tied to the 2020 U.S. election, including national political parties and political consultants working for Republicans and Democrats. 

U.S. intelligence officials have said that Kremlin-linked individuals are boosting Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Congressional investigations and a probe overseen by Special Counsel Robert Mueller have confirmed U.S. intelligence findings that Russia engaged in a broad-based effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“We are bystanders, we do not interfere,” Mr. Putin said. “This is still not our business, let them sort it out among themselves as they see fit in the context of the current events. We will work with any future president of the United States.”

Last month, Mr. Putin called for Moscow and Washington to conclude a pact that would guarantee neither nation interferes in the other’s elections.

During more than 20 years in power, Vladimir Putin has faced a number of challenges while pushing to expand Russia’s influence. But the coronavirus pandemic might be the biggest test to his leadership yet, as he moves to possibly extend his presidency until 2036. Photo: Getty Images (Originally published July 2, 2020)

The Kremlin leader said that Moscow appreciates that Mr. Trump has spoken in favor of improving the U.S.-Russia ties.

“From the very beginning, in the first iteration of the struggle for the White House, he talked about this, we, of course, paid attention to this,” Mr. Putin said.

“But of course, the intentions that President Trump spoke about earlier have not been fully realized,” Mr. Putin said, blaming what he described as a “bipartisan consensus on the need to contain Russia,” and noting that Washington had imposed or expanded sanctions on Russia.

The Russian leader noted that Russia-U.S. trade relations have nonetheless grown, while joint efforts to stabilize global energy markets had also been effective.

Write to Georgi Kantchev at [email protected]

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