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Putin says he won’t congratulate Biden until ‘legal processes’ are completed

Oliver Carroll
In Moscow
Monday 09 November 2020 13:52 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference in Moscow, Russia (AP)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is refusing to congratulate Joe Biden upon his election to president-elect on Saturday, because there are still “legal processes” to go through.

Russia would only recognise a new president on confirmation of “official results,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday,  without elaborating on what exactly that would mean. 

“We believe the correct thing to do is wait,” he told journalists. “President Putin has on many occasions said he would respect any choice the American nation makes.”

Former vice-president Biden beat incumbent Donald Trump in the race to the White House on Saturday, after securing Pennsylvania’s crucial 20 electoral college votes.  

US Russia relations are already at their worst since the Cold War, but the Kremlin’s stance underlines a belief things are unlikely to get better with a known adversary at the helm. 

Personal relations between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden are known to be problematic. In a 2014 interview to the New Yorker, then VP Biden claimed he had told Putin he had “no soul”.

In the absence of an official response over the weekend, it was left to the Sunday propaganda news shows to outline the likely position. In what appeared to be a deliberate snub, the flagship Vesti Nedeli led with Friday’s news of the death of a famous Soviet comic. When it did get round to reporting on the US election, it depicted both Mr Biden and Mr Trump as quarrelling candidates accusing each other of fraud. 

As well as Russia,  the leaders of China, Brazil and Turkey are also holding out in sending any congratulations to Mr Biden.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday offered a similar explanation of why President Xi Jinping has stayed silent.

"We understand the presidential election result will be determined following U.S. laws and procedures," he said.

Markedly, China did back Guinea’s Alpha Conde on his re-election as president on Monday – even as he faced allegations of fraud at home.

In addition, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also said he would wait to comment until the legal challenges over the vote were resolved.

With agencies

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