Moscow recalled Ambassador to the US after President Biden made the sensational comment on TV that he believed Russian President Vladimir was a 'killer'. In an interview on ABC news channel, Biden also said Putin will pay the price for allegedly interfering in the US presidential elections, on behalf of former President Donald Trump.
In a sharp response to Biden's comments on Wednesday, Russia said it was recalling its ambassador Anatoly Antonov. The ambassador will return to Moscow and have consultations to decide the future course of action for the Putin government.
"Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov will fly to Moscow for consultations on March 20. He will hold meetings at the Russian Foreign Ministry and other government agencies to discuss ways of correcting the Russian-US ties, which are now in a crisis," the embassy said, according to Russia's TAAS news agency.
'Utter Collapse to Bilateral Relations'
The Russian embassy said the Biden administration's non-constructive policy towards Russia was not in the interest of Moscow and Washington and that 'certain reckless statements' could lead to utter collapse to bilateral relations.
Biden's incendiary comment came after a joint report by the US spy agencies said Russia was actively involved in election manipulation in 2020. The Russians acted with the aim of "denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US," the report said.
The declassified report, which was inked by agencies including the CIA and the department of homeland security, said Ukraine-linked individuals with ties to Russian intelligence launched a smear campaign against Biden by peddling his alleged links to Kiev.
Denigrating President Biden's Candidacy
The 15-page report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Putin authorized "influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US."
However, the tipping point following the release of the report came when Biden took the battle directly and personally to Putin, saying he believed the Russian leader was a 'killer'. During the interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Biden hit out against Putin over the poisoning of leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
When Stephanopoulos asked the president if he believed Putin was a 'killer' for his alleged role in the poisoning of Navalny and other opposition leaders, Biden said: "I do."
Referring to a phone call with Putin after he took office, Biden said he had warned the Russian president that he would take action if Russian involvement in the election was proved.
"The conversation started off, I said, 'I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared'," Biden said in the interview.
Biden Meant What he Said, Says Psaki
Earlier, on Wednesday, the US Commerce Department had also revealed that it was making export restrictions on Russia tougher as punishment for Navalny's poisoning.
Later in the day, the White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki weighed in on the developments and her comments pointed to the seriousness of the situation. Psaki, replying to journalists' questions, clearly said the president had not made the comment by mistake.
"He does not hold back on his concerns about what we see as malign and problematic actions... He's not going to hold back in his direct communications, nor is he going to hold back publicly ... We are not going to look the other way as we saw a little bit over the last four years," Psaki said.