United States President Joe Biden has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “going to pay” following a US intelligence report that linked Moscow to an influence campaign that sought to swing the 2020 United States election for former President Donald Trump.
The report, which was published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday, concluded that Moscow sought to “push influence narratives” that included misleading or unsubstantiated claims against Biden “to US media organisations, US officials, and prominent US individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration”.
It also concluded that Putin was “aware and probably directed” the campaign to undermine Biden and boost Trump. US intelligence had previously concluded that Russian agents had sought to meddle in the 2016 election through a hacking and influence campaign.
In an excerpt of an interview with ABC News released on Wednesday, Biden said he had warned Putin there would be repercussions to any confirmed meddling.
“He will pay a price,” Biden told interviewer George Stephanopoulos. “We had a long talk, he and I, when we – I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.'”
Biden was also asked if he thought Putin was a “killer”.
“I do,” he responded.
‘Absolutely no foundation and evidence’
Biden did not elaborate on what repercussions Putin would face in light of the election meddling report, although Washington is expected to impose further sanctions on Moscow, reportedly as early as next week.
The US has already imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials earlier this month over Moscow’s poisoning and imprisonment of opposition politician Alexey Navalny, in what Moscow has cast as an unacceptable intervention in its domestic affairs.
On Wednesday, the US commerce department said it was also tightening sanctions on some exports to Russia in response to the March 2018 poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England with a military-grade nerve agent.
Moscow has denied involvement in both attacks.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin said the US intelligence report on Russian election meddling has “absolutely no foundation and evidence” and warned that further sanctions would harm US-Russia relations.
Russia’s ambassador in the US will depart Washington on Saturday for urgent consultations in Moscow, the embassy said on Thursday, warning that bilateral ties were on the brink of “collapse”.
“On March 20, Ambassador of Russia to the United States Anatoly Antonov is leaving for Moscow for consultations,” the embassy said in a statement.
Antonov planned to discuss “ways to rectify Russia-US ties, which are in crisis,” it said.
It added that “certain ill-considered statements of high-ranking US officials have put the already excessively confrontational relations under the threat of collapse”.