MOSCOW – Russia’s ambassador to the United States arrived in Moscow on Sunday for discussions on how to address sliding U.S.-Russia relations after U.S. President Joe Biden said he thought Vladimir Putin was a killer, the TASS news agency reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday it was recalling its ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, for urgent talks after Biden said in an ABC interview he thought President Putin was a killer who would “pay a price” for alleged U.S. election meddling – an accusation that Moscow denies.
Putin responded to Biden by citing a Russian children’s playground chant that “he who said it, did it”, and offered to hold live online talks with the U.S. president, a proposal Biden has not so far taken up.
Biden is not the first US leader to brand Putin a killer.
The late Sen. John McCain wrote this about Putin in his memoir
“Vladimir Putin is an evil man, and he is intent on evil deeds, which include the destruction of the liberal world order that the United States has led and that has brought more stability, prosperity and freedom to humankind than has ever existed in history,” McCain wrote. “He is exploiting the openness of our society and the increasingly acrimonious political divisions consuming us.”
On January 21st 2016 he was quoted as calling Putin a thug and a murderer: “They do not understand this guy is a thug and a murderer in the old KGB-style”
The Russian embassy in Washington’s social media accounts posted a picture of Antonov in the early hours of Sunday morning at a U.S. airport, with an Aeroflot plane idling on the runway.
“Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov is on his way to Moscow to participate in consultations on rectifying Russia-U.S. relations,” the embassy said.
Both countries have said they will only cooperate when it is in their national interest to do so.
State TV’s First Channel said Antonov told reporters before boarding his plane that there was a lot of work for the Russian foreign ministry and others to do, but that he had no doubt that keeping lines of communication open was in the interests of the American people.
The channel then read out what it said were excerpts of letters sent to Antonov by Americans before his departure, apologising for Biden’s comments about Putin.
TASS said a plane carrying Antonov had touched down at Moscow’s Sheremtyevo airport on Sunday morning.