Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has noted what he described as “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric” from US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, adding, however, that he had been encouraged by the former vice president’s comments on a key nuclear arms control treaty.
Putin, in comments on state television on Wednesday weeks before the United States presidential election on November 3, said Moscow would work with any US leader, but praised incumbent President Donald Trump for saying he wanted better ties.
“Of course we value this,” said Putin, who also denied once again accusations of Russian meddling in the US election four years ago, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
“As far as the candidate from the Democratic Party is concerned … we also see quite sharp anti-Russian rhetoric. Unfortunately, we are used to this,” Putin said in an appearance on state television.
But he added that Biden had made what he regarded as encouraging statements on New START, the last significant nuclear arms pact between Russia and the US, which is due to expire in February.
Moscow and Washington have so far been unable to agree on a new treaty or an extension, though Trump’s envoy for arms control said on Tuesday that “important progress” had been made at bilateral talks.
“Candidate Biden publicly said he was ready for an extension of New START or to reach a new treaty to limit strategic … weapons, and this is a very serious element of our cooperation in the future,” Putin said.
Last month, Putin proposed a reset in cyber-ties with Washington and called for a bilateral agreement that they would not engage in cyber-meddling in each other’s elections.
On Wednesday, he said Washington had ignored that proposal.
“Unfortunately … there has been no answer on this … very important issue, although there are continuing claims against us about our apparent hyperactivity … in interfering in elections … which are completely groundless.”
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election with the aim of tilting it in Trump’s favour, including by hacking into Clinton’s campaign. Moscow denies that charge.
Russia has also denied accusations it is attempting to interfere in the 2020 US campaign, despite evidence to the contrary.
In early September, Microsoft said hackers linked to Russia, China and Iran were trying to spy on people tied to both Trump and Biden. The three countries rejected the allegations.
Reuters news agency reported on September 9 that Microsoft had alerted one of Biden’s main election campaign advisory firms that it had been targeted by suspected Russian state-backed hackers. The Kremlin called the report “nonsense”.