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Biden says Putin ‘will pay a price’ for election interference


Russian President Vladimir Putin will face consequences for interfering in US elections, US President Joe Biden said in an ABC News interview that aired Wednesday. «He will pay a price,» Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. 

The comments came a day after a US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) report concluded that Putin approved «influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party,» exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US, in an effort to swing the 2020 US presidential election.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called allegations of election interference, «absolutely groundless and unsubstantiated,» adding the claim was to justify new sanctions against Moscow. Nevertheless, a sell-off of the rouble began shortly after Biden’s remarks were made public, with the currency sliding 1.4% against the US dollar.

«There will be more sanctions coming, that is clear. The question is how severe?» said Peter Kisler of North Asset Management. Kisler noted the US could force Russia’s central bank to step in to prop up the rouble by targeting Russian OFZ treasury bonds, «it would be enough for a nice drop in the rouble,» he says.

Biden told ABC that he knows Putin «relatively well» and that the two had a «long talk» in January. When asked if he thinks Putin, who has been accused of poisoning political opponents, is a «killer,» Biden replied, «I do.» Biden says Putin is a soulless killer but he is willing to work with him for the greater good whenever possible.

In 2017, Donald Trump, famously demurred when asked the same, choosing instead to shift blame to America’s own history of ill-deeds: «There are a lot of killers,» Trump replied during a Fox News interview, «You think our country is so innocent?»

Biden said that despite his own feelings toward Putin, there are «places where it’s in our mutual interest to work together. That’s why I renewed the START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] agreement with him. That occurred while he’s doing this but that’s overwhelmingly in the interest of humanity that we diminish the prospect of a nuclear exchange.»

Tensions have soared between the US and Russia in recent years over hacking and election interference allegations and in early March, Washington demands Russia to free Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was immediately imprisoned upon returning to Moscow from Germany, where he had been treated for nerve agent poisoning in what many say was a clear assassination attempt by the Kremlin. The sanctions were added on top of those already imposed on Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea.