The Russian government has recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations in Moscow after President Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin would “pay a price” for meddling in the 2020 election. 

   The announcement came in a statement issued Wednesday by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova:

   Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has been summoned to Moscow for consultations in order to analyse what needs to be done in the context of relations with the United States.

  The new US administration took office about two months ago and the symbolic 100-day mark is not too far away, which is a good occasion for trying to appraise what Joe Biden’s team has managed to do and where it was not very successful. The most important thing for us is to identify ways of rectifying Russia-US relations, which have been going through hard times as Washington has, as a matter of fact, brought them to a blind alley. We are interested in preventing an irreversible deterioration in relations, if the Americans become aware of the risks associated with this.

      The Russian statement followed an interview Biden gave to ABC News that aired Wednesday morning. When asked if he thought Putin was “a killer,”Biden said “I do.”

     Biden said he had warned Putin about a potential response to alleged election meddling during a call in late January. “He will pay a price,” Biden said in the ABC interview. Asked what the consequences would be, the president said: “You’ll see shortly.”

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     Biden’s comments came a day after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified report that assessed that Putin “authorized intelligence operations aimed at denigrating” Biden’s candidacy and supporting former President Donald Trump.

    The report also said a key element of the Kremlin’s strategy in the 2020 election cycle was the use of proxies linked to Russian intelligence to push misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against Biden. It said that such disinformation was pushed to some people close to Trump and his administration.

   The report identified two of the proxies as Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker, and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian influence agent. It did not mention any Americans close to Trump by name.

    But it said that Russia spread a narrative alleging corrupt ties between Biden, his family and other U.S. officials and Ukraine. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani met with Derkach several times as part of his efforts to push the Ukraine government into opening an investigation into the Bidens.

   On Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the claims that the Russian administration believes claims that Russia allegedly meddled in the 2020 U.S. presidential election are unfounded, the official Russian news agency TASS reported.

   Peskov said:  “We can only once again express regret that these materials, which are far from being of any quality, are used as a pretext to bring forward the issue of more sanctions” against Russia.

     The Biden administration on Wednesday announced more sanctions on Russia over the use of chemical weapons against dissidents, including the poisoning of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

    The Hill reported:

    The Department of Commerce said it is blocking the export of items controlled for national security reasons that are destined for Russia.

     It will also suspend licenses that granted specific exceptions for exports to Russia, targeting replacement parts and equipment, technology and software and “additional permissive reexports.”

   “The Department of Commerce is committed to preventing Russia from accessing sensitive U.S. technologies that might be diverted to its malign chemical weapons activities,” the agency said in a statement.

     The administration is expected to announce more sanctions next week related to the election meddling. 

    At her daily press briefing, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki made clear that the new administration will make a sharp break from the warm relations Trump had with Putin.

   “Our relationship will look different. We will be direct, we will speak out on areas where we have concerns. 

“As the president said … the Russians will be held accountable for the actions that they have taken,” she said.

     

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