Russia’s ambassador to Washington arrived Sunday in Moscow for consultations after the Kremlin expressed fury at President Biden’s characterization of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” who lacks a soul.
Reacting to a new U.S. intelligence report that concluded Moscow had meddled in the 2020 presidential election for the second straight cycle, Mr. Biden told ABC News in an interview last week that Russia would “pay a price” for its interference.
Mr. Putin and top Russian officials denied the charges and took especially strong exception to Mr. Biden’s language. Mr. Putin mocked the president’s words, recalling a childhood taunt suggesting that Mr. Biden was the one guilty of what he had accused Mr. Putin of doing.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry took the unusual step of recalling Ambassador Anatoly Antonov from Washington to Moscow to discuss a response in person, the first time it had done so in nearly a quarter-century. Russian press outlets said the envoy landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport early Sunday.
Before leaving New York on Saturday, he told the Russian TASS news agency there was no set time for his return to Washington.
“Several meetings are planned in Moscow in various departments,” Mr. Antonov said. “How long it will take is difficult to say now. But I proceed from the fact that as long as necessary, I will stay as long.”
But he also suggested that Moscow for now is not interested in a complete breakdown in bilateral relations.
“The Russian side has always emphasized that we are interested in the development of Russian-American relations to the same extent as our American colleagues,” Mr. Antonov said. “We need to sort it out.”
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